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Author of 
Songs at the Start 
Goose-Quill Papers 
The White Sail 

Fifty Illustrations by Edmund H Garrett 



Copyright, 1888, 


D. LoTHROP Company. 



























The little river-neck of Sweden 
" God speed you, gentlemen ! " 

The Neapolitan fairy 

The elf-monarch who was made court-fool 

The Isle of Riigen Dwarfs that give presents 


The Dwarf that borrowed the silk gown 

The Black Dwarfs of Riigen planning mischief 

The Troll's children 

A Coblynau 

" I can't stay any longer ! " 

An elle-maid of Denmark 

Bertha, the White Lady 

Some Greek fairies . 

An elf-traveller 

Brownie's delight was to do domestic service 

Brownie relishes his bowl of cream 

All that Puck demanded 

" Wag-at-the-wa' " . . 

An Irish Cluricaune 

Japanese children and Brownies 

A little Fir-Darrig . 













The persistent Xobold of Kopenick 


The old Nix near Ghent 

The work of the Nickel 

Hob in Hobhole 

The Irish Pooka was a horse too 

Will o'-the-Wisp 

Pisky also chased the farmers' cows 

Red Comb was a tyrant . 

The Welsh Puck . 

A merry night-wanderer 

" By the moon we sport and play " 

The elves whose little eyes glow 

There was an Irish changling . 

" The acorn before the oak have I seen " 

She heard a faint voice singing under a leaf 

" Ainsel " . 

Gitto Bach and the fairies 

Kaguyahime, the moon-maid 

The little hunchback 

Taknakaux Kan 

" Al was this loud fulfilled of faeries " 

Fairy stories 

The capture of Skillywidden 

Good-bye .... 











A FAIRY is a humorous person sadly out of 
fashion at present, who has had, neverthe- 
less, in the actors' phrase, a long and prosperous 
run on this planet. When we speak of fairies 
nowadays, we think only of small sprites who 
live in a kingdom of their own, with manners, laws, 
and privileges very different from ours. But there 
was a time when " fairy " suggested also the knights 
and ladies of romance, about whom fine spirited 
tales were told when the world was younger. 
Spenser's Faery Queen, for instance, deals with 
dream-people, beautiful and brave, as do the old 
stories of Arthur and Roland ; people who either 

I J "brownies and bogles." 

never lived, or who, having lived, were glorified 
and magnified by tradition out of all kinship with 
common men. Our fairies are fairies in the mod- 
ern sense. We will make it a rule, from the be- 
ginning, that they must be small, and we will put 
out any who are above the regulation height. 
Such as the charming famous Melusina, who 
wails upon her tower at the death of a Lusignan, 
we may as well skip; for she is a tall young 
lady, with a serpent's tail, to boot, and thus, 
alas! half-monster; for if we should accept any 
like her in our plan, there is no reason why we 
should not get confused among mermaids and 
dryads, and perhaps end by scoring down great 
Juno herself as a fairy ! Many a dwarf and gob- 
lin, whom we shall meet anon, is as big as- a 
child. Again, there are rumors in nearly every 
country of finding hundreds of them on a square 
inch of oak-leaf, or beneath the thin shadow of a 
blade of grass. The fairies of popular belief are 
little and somewhat shrivelled, and quite as apt to 
be malignant as to be frolicsome and gentle. We 
shall find that they were divided into several 


classes and families ; but there is much analogy 
and vagueness among these divisions. By and by 
you may care to study them for yourselves ; at 
present, we shall be very high-handed with the 
science of folk-lore, and pay no attention whatever 
to learned gentlemen, who quarrel so foolishly 
about these things that it is not helpful, nor even 
funny, to listen to them. A widely-spread notion 
is that when our crusading forefathers went to 
the Holy Land, they heard the Paynim soldiers, 
whom they fought, speaking much of the Peri, the 
loveliest beings imaginable, who dwelt in the East. 
Now, the Arabian language, which these swarthy 
warriors used, has no letter P, and therefore they 
called their spirits Feri, as did the Crusaders after 
them ; and the word went back with them to Eu- 
rope, and slipped into general use. 

"Elf" and "goblin," too, are interesting to 
trace. There was a great Italian feud, in the 
twelfth century, between the German Emperor and 
the Pope, whose separate partisans were known as 
the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. As time went on, 
and the memory of that long strife was still fresh, 

14 "brownies and bogles. 

a descendant of the Guelfs would put upon any- 
body he disliked the odious name of Ghibelline ; 
and the latter, generation after generation, would 
return the compliment ardently, in his own fashion. 
Both terms, finally, came to be mere catch-words 
for abuse and reproach. And the fairies, falling 
into disfavor with some bold mortals, were angrily 
nicknamed " elf " and " goblin " ; in which shape 
you will recognize the last threadbare reminder of 
the once bitter and historic faction of Guelf and 

It is likely that the tribe were designated as fair- 
ies because they were, for the most part, fair to 
see, and full of grace and charm, especially among 
the Celtic branches ; and people, at all times, had 
too much desire to keep their good-will, and too 
much shrinking from their rancor and spite, to 
give them any but the most flattering titles. They 
were seldom addressed otherwise than " the little 
folk," "the kind folk," "the gentr)%" "the fair 
family," "the blessings of their mothers," and "the 
dear wives " ; just as, thousands of years back, 
the noblest and cleverest nation the world has ever 


seen, called the dreaded Three " Eumenides," the 
gracious ones. It is a sure and fast maxim that 
wheedling human nature puts on its best manners 
when it is afraid. In Goldsmith's racy play, She 
Stoops to Conquer, old Mistress Hardcastle meets 
what she takes to be a robber. She hates robbers, 
of course, and is scared half out of her five wits ; 
but she implores mercy with a cowering politeness 
at which nobody can choose but laugh, of her "good 
Mr. Highwayman," Now, fairies, who knew how to 
be bountiful and tender, and who made slaves of 
themselves to serve men and women, as we shall 
see, were easily offended, and wrought great mis- 
chief and revenge if they were not treated hand- 
somely ; all of which kept people in the habit of 
courtesy toward them. A whirlwind of dust is a 
very annoying thing, and makes one splutter, and 
feel absurdly resentful ; but in Ireland, exactly as 
in modern Greece, the peasantry thought that it 
betokened the presence of fairies going a journey ; 
so they lifted their hats gallantly, and said : " God 
speed you, gentlemen ! " 

Fairies had their followers and votaries from 



early times. Nothing in the Bible hints that they 
were known among the heathens with whom the 
Israelites warred ; nothing in classic mythology 
has any approach to them, except the beautiful 

"god speed you, gentlemen!" 

wood and water-nymphs. Yet poet Homer, Pliny 
the scientist, and Aristotle the philosopher, had 
some notion of them, and of their influence. In old 
China, whole mountains were peopled with them, 
and the coriander-seeds grown in their gardens 


gave long life to those who ate of them. The 
Persians had a hierarchy of elves, and were the 
first to set aside Fairyland as their dwelling-place. 
Saxons, in their wild forests, believed in tiny 
dwarves or demons called Duergar. Celtic coun- 
tries, Scotland, Brittany, Ireland, Wales, were 
always crowded with them. In the " uttermost 
mountains of India, under a merry part of heaven," 
or by the hoary Nile, according to other writers, 
were the Pigmeos, one cubit high, full-grown at 
three years, and old at seven, who fought with 
cranes for a livelihood. And the Swiss alchemist, 
Paracelsus (a most pompous and amusing old big- 
wig), wrote that in his day all Germany was filled 
with fairies two feet long, walking about in little 
coats ! 

Their favorite color, noticeably in Great Britain, 
was green ; the majority of them wore it, and 
grudged its adoption by a mortal. Sir Walter 
Scott tells us that it was a fatal hue to several 
families in his country, to the entire gallant race 
of Grahames in particular ; for in battle a Gra- 
hame was almost always shot through the green 

i8 "brownies and bogles." 

check of his plaid. French fairies went in white; 
the Nis of Jutland, and many other house-sprites, 
in red and gray, or red and brown ; and the plump 
Welsh goblins, whose holiday dress was also white, 
in the gayest and most varied tints of all. In 
North Wales were " the old elves of the blue petti- 
coat"; in Cardiganshire was the familiar green 
again, though it was never seen save in the month 
of May ; and in Pembrokeshire, a uniform of jolly 
scarlet gowns and caps. The fairy gentlemen 
were quite as much given to finery as the ladies, 
and their general air was one of extreme cheer- 
ful dandyism. Only the mine and ground-fairies 
were attired in sombre colors. Indeed, their idea 
of clothes was delightfully liberal ; an elf bespoke 
himself by what he chose to wear; and fashions 
ranged all the way from the sprites of the Orkney 
Islands, who strutted about in armor, to the little 
Heinzelmanchen of Cologne, who scorned to be 
burdened with so much as a hat ! 

People accounted in strange ways for their 
origin. A legend, firmly held in Iceland, says that 
once upon a time Eve was washmg a number of 


her children at a spring, and when the Lord ap- 
peared suddenly before her, she hustled and hid 
away those who were not already clean and pre- 
sentable ; and that they being made forever in- 
visible after, became the ancestors of the "little 
folk," who pervade the hills and caves and ruins 
to this day. In Ireland and Scotland fairies were 
spoken of as a wandering remnant of the fallen 
angels. The Christian world over, they were 
deemed either for a while, or perpetually, to be 
locked out from the happiness of the blessed in 
the next world. The Bretons thought their Kor- 
rigans had been great Gallic princesses, who re- 
fused the new faith, and clung to their pagan gods, 
and fell under a curse because of their stubborn- 
ness. The Small People of Cornwall, too, were 
imagined to be the ancient inhabitants of that 
country, long before Christ was born, not good 
enough for Heaven, and yet too good to be con- 
demned altogether, whose fate it is to stray about, 
growing smaller and smaller, until by and by they 
vanish from the face of the earth. 

Therefore the poor fairy-folk, with whom the- 

20 "brownies and bogles." 

ology deals so rudely, were supposed to be tired 
waiting, and anxious to know how they might fare 
everlastingly •, and they waylaid many mortals, 
who, of course, really could tell them nothing, to 
ask whether they might not get into Heaven, by 
chance, at the end. It was their chief cause of 
doubt and melancholy, and ran in their little 
minds from year to year. And since we shall re- 
vert no more to the sad side of fairy-life, let us 
close with a most sweet story of something which 
happened in Sweden, centuries ago. 

Two boys were gambolling by a river, when a 
Neck rose up to the air, smiling, and twanging 
his harp. The elder child watched him, and cried 
mockingly : " Neck ! what is the good of your sit- 
ting there and playing .'' You will never be saved ! " 
And the Neck's sensitive eyes filled with tears, 
and, dropping his harp, he sank forlornly to the 
bottom. But when the brothers had gone home, 
and told their wise and saintly father, he said they 
had been thoughtlessly unkind ; and he bade them 
hurry back to the river, and comfort the little water- 
spirit. From afar off they saw him again on the 


surface, weeping bitterly. And they called to him : 
" Dear Neck ! do not grieve ; for our father says 
that your Redeemer liveth also." Then he threw 
back his bright head, and, taking his harp, sang 
and played with exceeding gladness until sunset 
was long past, and the first star sent down its 
benediction from the sky. 



THE forming of character among the fairy- 
folk was a very simple and sensible matter. 
You will imagine that the Pagan, Druid and Chris- 
tian elves varied greatly. And they did; still 
their morals had nothing to do with it, nor pride, 
nor patriotism, nor descent, nor education ; nor 
would all the philosophy you might crowd into a 
thimble have made one bee-big resident of Japan 
different from a man of his own size in Spain. 

They saved themselves no end of trouble by 
setting up the local barometer as their standard. 
The only Bible they knew was the weather, and 
they followed it stoutly. Whatever the climate 
was, whatever it had helped to make the grown-up 
nation who lived under it, that, every time, were 
the " brownies and bogles." Where the land was 



rocky and grim, and subject to wild storms and 
sudden darknesses, the fairies were grim and wild 
too, and full of wicked tricks. Where the land- 
scape was level and green, and the crops grew 
peacefully, they were tame, as in central England, 
and inclined to be sentimental. 

And they copied the distinguishing traits of the 
race among whom they dwelt. A frugal Breton 
fairy spoke the Breton dialect ; the Neapolitan 
had a tooth for fruits and macaroni ; the Chinese 
was ceremonious and stern ; a true Provengal 
fee was as vain as a peacock, flirting a mirror be- 
fore her, and an Irish elf, bless his little red 
feathered caubeen ! was never the man to run 
away from a fight. 

If you look on the map, and see a section of 
coast-line like that of Cornwall or Norway, a sun- 
shiny, perilous, foamy place, make up your mind 
that the fairies thereabouts were fellows worth 
knowing ; that you would have needed all your wit 
and pluck to get the better of them, and that they 
would have made live, hearty playmates, too, while 
in good humor, for any brave boy or girl. 


We do not know nearly so much about the gen- 
uine fairies as we should like. They must have 
been, at one time or another, in every European 
countr)'. Most of the Oriental spirits were taller, 
and of another brood ; they figured either as de- 
mons, or as what we should now call angels. But 
in the Germanic colonies, from very old days, 
fairy-lore was finely developed, and we count up 
tribe on tribe of necks, nixies, stromkarls and mer- 
maids, who were water-sprites ; of bergmannchen 
(little men of the mountain), and lovely wild-women 
in hilly places ; of trolls around the woods and 
rocks; of elves in the air, and gnomes or duer- 
gars in caverns or mines. Yet from Portugal, and 
Russia, and Hungary, and from our own North 
American Indians, we learn so little that it is 
not worth counting. 

If the good dear peasants who were acquainted 
with the fairies had made more rhymes about them, 
and handed them down more attentively ; if it had 
occurred to the knowing scholar-monks to keep 
diaries of elfin doings, as it would have done had 
they but known how soon their little friends were 



to be extinct, like the glyptodon and the dodo, 
how wise should we not be ! ^ 

But again, though there were hosts of supernat- 


ural beings in the beliefs of every old land, we 
have no business with any but the wee ones. 
And as these were settled most thickly in the 
Teutonic, Celtic and Cymric countries, we will 

26 "brownies and bogles." 

turn our curiosity thither, without farther grum- 
bling, and be glad to get so much authentic news 
of them as we may. 

Fairies, as a whole, seem at bottom rather weak 
and disconsolate. For all of their magic and cun- 
ning, for all of their high station, and. its feasting 
and glory, they could not keep from seeking human 
sympathy. They did, indeed, hurt men, resent in- 
trusions, foretell the future, and call down disease 
and storm, but they stood in awe of the weakest 
mortal because of his superior strength and size ; 
they came to him to borrow food and medicine, and 
even to ask the loan of his house for their revels. 
They rendered themselves invisible, but he had 
always at his feet the fern-seed, the talisman of 
four-leaved clover (or, as in Scotland, the leaf of 
the ash or rowan-tree), with v.'hich he could defeat 
their design, and protect himself against the attacks 
of any witch, imp, or fairy whatsoever. 

Their government was a happ3^-go-lucky affair. 
The various tribes of fairies had no common inter- 
ests which would make them sigh for post-offices, 
or cables, or general synods. Each set of them 


got along, independent of the rest. Once in a 
while a mine-man would live alone with his wife, 
pegging away at his daily work, without any idea 
of hurrahing for his King or, more likely, his 
Queen ; or even of hunting up his own cousins in 
the next county. 

If we had elves in the United States nowadays, 
they would no doubt be American enough to elect 
a President and have him as honest, and steady, 
and sound-hearted as needs be. But dwelling as 
they did in feudal days, they set up thrones and 
sceptres all over Fairydom. 

According to the poets, Mab and Oberon are 
the crowned rulers of the little people. In reality, 
they had no supreme head. Among many parties 
and factions, each small agreeing community had 
its own chief, the tallest of his race, who was no 
chief at all, mind you, to the airy neighbors a mile 
east. The delicate yellow Chinese fairy-mother 
was Si Wang Mu; and in the Netherlands, the 
elf-queen, who was also queen of the witches, was 
called Wanne Thekla. 

We snatch an item here and there of the royal 


histories. We find that the sweet-natured Elberich 
in the Niebelungen is the same as Oberon. In 
Germany was a dwarf-king named Goldemar, who 
lived with a knight, shared his bed, played at dice 
with him, gave him good advice, called him Broth- 
er-in-law very fondly, and comforted him with the 
music of his harp. But Goldemar, though the 
knight loved him and could touch and feel him, 
was unseen. He was like a wreath of blue smoke, 
or a fragment of moonlight, and you could run a 
sword through him, and never change his kind 
smile. His royal hands were lean, and soft, and 
cold as a frog's. After three years, perhaps when 
Brother-in-law was dead, or when he was married, 
and needed him no longer, the gentle dwarf-king 

Sinnels, Giibich, and Heiling were other dwarf- 
princes, probably rivals of Goldemar, and ready 
to have at him till their breath gave out. Their 
little majesties were quarrelsome as cock-sparrows. 
The elf-monarch Laurin was once conquered by 
Theodoric ; and because he had been treacherous 
in war (which was not "fair" at all, despite the 



proverb), he got a very sad rebuff to his dignity, 
in being made fool or buffoon at the court of 

We are told in 
the Mabinogion 
how the daugh- 
ter of Llud Llaw 
Ereint was " the 
most splendid 
maiden in the 
three islands of 
the mighty," and 
a p N u d d, the 
Welsh fairy-king, 
battles every 
M a y - d a y from 
dawn until sunset. Gwyn once carried her off 
from Gwythyr, her true lord ; and both lovers 
were so furious and cruel against each other that 
blessed King Arthur condemned them to wage 
bitter fight on each first-of-May till the world's 
end ; and to whomsoever is victorious the great- 


30 "brownies and bogles. 

est number of times, the fair lady shall then be 
given. Let us hope the reward will not fall to 
thieving Gwyn. 

We have said that we should do pretty much as 
we pleased in ranging the myriad fairy-folk into 
ranks and species. If, as we prowl about, we see 
a baby in the house of the Elfsmiths, who has a 
look of the Elfbrowns, we will immediately kidnap 
him from his fond parents, and add him to the 
family he resembles. Now that might make wail- 
ing and confusion, and bring down vengeance on 
our heads, if there were any Queen Mab left to 
rap us to order ; but as things go, we shall find it 
a very neat way of smoothing difficulties. 

Of course there are certain pigwidgeons too ac- 
complished, too slippery, too many things in one, 
to be ticketed and tied down like the rest ; such 
versatile fellows as the Brown Dwarves of the Isle 
of Riigen, for instance. They lived in what were 
called the Vine-hills, and were not quite eighteen 
inches high. They wore little snuff-brown jackets 
and a brown cap (which made them invisible, 
and allowed them to pass through the smallest key- 



hole), with one wee silver bell at its peak, not to 
be lost for any mone}-. But they did some roguish 
things; and children who fell into their hands 
had to serve them for fifty years ! With caprice 


usual to their kin, they will, on other occasions, 
befriend and -protect children, and give them pres- 
ents ; or plague untidy servants, like Brownie, or 
lead travellers astray by night into bogs and 

32 "brownies and bogles." 

marshes, like the Ellydan and the Fir-Darrig, and 
mischievous double-faced Robin Goodfellow him- 

An ancient tradition says that while the grass- 
blades are sprouting at the root, the earth-elves 
water and nourish them; and the moment the 
growth pierces the soil, affectionate air-elves take 
it in charge. Therefore we borrow a hint from 
the grass ; and after first going down among the 
swarthy fairies who burrow underground, we shall 
pass up to companionship with little beings so 
beautiful that wherever they flock there is star- 
light and song. 



ACCORDING to the very old Scandinavian 
notion, land-fairies were of two sorts; the 
Light or Good Elves who dwelt in air, or out-of- 
doors on the earth, and the Black or Evil Elves 
who dwelt beneath it. 

We will follow the Norse folk. If we were re- 
quired to group human beings under two headings, 
we should choose that same Good and Evil, be- 
cause the division occurs to one naturally, because 
it saves time, and because everybody comprehends 
it, and sees that it is based upon law ; and so do 
we deal with our wonder-friends, who have the 
strange moral sorcery belonging to each of us their 
masters, to help or to harm. 

The evil fairies, then, were the scowling under- 
ground tribes, who hid themselves from the frank 

34 "brownies and bogles.** 

daylight, and the open reaches of the fields. Yet 
just as the good fairies had many a sad failing 
to offset their grace and charm, the grim, dark- 
skinned manikins had sudden impulses towards 
honor and kindness. In fact, as we noted before, 
they were astonishingly like our fellow-creatures, 
of whom scarce any is entirely faultless, or en- 
tirely warped and ruined. 

For instance, the Hill-men, in Switzerland, were 
very generous-minded ; they drove home stray 
lambs at night, and put berry-bushes in the way 
of poor children. And the more modern Dwarves 
of Germany, frequenting the clefts of rocks, were 
silent, mild, and well-disposed, and apt to bring 
presents to those who took their fancy. Like 
others of the elf-kingdom, they loved to borrow 
from mortals. Once a little bowing Dwarf came 
to a lady for the loan of her silk gown for a fairy- 
bride. (You can imagine that, at the ceremony, 
the groom must have had a pretty hunt among the 
wilderness of finery to get at her ring-finger!) 
Of course the lady gave it ; but worrying over its 
tardy return, she went to the Dwarves' hill and 



asked for it aloud. A messenger with a sorrowful 
countenance brought it to her at once, spotted 
over and over with wax. But he told her that 


had she been less impatient every stain would 
have been a diamond ! 

The huge, terrible, ogre-like Hindoo Rakshas, 
the weird Divs and Jinns of Persia, and the an- 

^6 "brownies and bogles." 

cient demon-dwarves of the south called Panis, 
may be considered the foster-parents of our dwin- 
dled minims, as the glorious Peris on the other 
hand gave their name, and some of their qualities, 
to a little European family of very different an- 

The Black Elves will serve as our general name 
for dwarves and mine-fairies. These are closely 
connected in all legends, live in the same neigh- 
borhoods, and therefore claim a mention together. 
They have four points in common : dark skin ; 
short, bulky bodies ; fickle and irritable natures ; 
and ' occupations as miners, misers, or metal- 
smiths. And because of their exceeding industry, 
on the old maxim's authority, where all work and 
no play made Jack a dull boy, they are curiously 
heavy-headed and preposterous jacks; and, waiv- 
ing their plain faces, not in any wise engaging. 
Yet perhaps, being largely German, they may be 
philosophers, and so vastly superior to any little 
gabbling, somersaulting ragamuffin over in Ireland. 

In the Middle Ages, they were described as 
withered and leering, with small, sharp, snapping 


black eyes, bright as gems ; with cracked voices, 
and matted hair, and horns peering from it ! and 
as if that were not enough adornment, they had 
claws, which must have been filched from the 
ghosts of mediaeval pussycats, on their fingers 
and toes. 

The first Duergars belonging to the Gotho-Ger- 
man mythology, were muscular and strong-legged ; 
and when they stood erect, their arms reached to 
the ground. They were clever and expert hand- 
lers of metal, and made of gold, silver and iron, 
the finest armor in the world. They wrought for 
Odin his great spear, and for Thor his hammer, 
and for Frey the wondrous ship Skidbladnir. 

Long ago, too, armor-making Elves, black as 
pitch, lived in Svart-Alfheim, in the bowels of the 
earth, and were able, by their glance or touch or 
breath, to cause sickness and death wheresoever 
they wished. 

Still uglier were the Black Dwarves of the mys- 
terious Isle of Riigen; nor had they any frolic- 
some or cordial ways which should bring up our 
opinion of them. Their pale eyes ran water, and 



every midnight they mewed and screeched hor- 
ribly from their holes. In idle summer-hours they 
sat under the elder-trees, planning by twos and 
and threes to wreak mischief on mankind. They, 
as well, were once useful, if not beautiful ; for in 


the days when heroes wore a panoply of steel, the 
Black Dwarves wrought fair helmets and corselets 
of cobwebby mail which no lance could pierce, 
and swords flexible as silk which could unhorse 
the miglitiest foe. The little blackamoors fre- 
quented mining districts, and dug for ore on their 


own account. They were said to be very rich, 
owning unnumbered chests stored underground. 
The most exciting tales about gnomes of all na- 
tions were founded on the efforts of daring mor- 
tals to get possession of their wealth. 

To the mining division belong the dwarf-Trolls 
of Denmark and Sweden (for there were giant- 
Trolls as well), and the whimsical Spriggans of 
Cornwall. The Trolls burrowed in mounds and 
hills, and were called also Bjerg-folk or Hill-folk; 
they lived in societies or families, baking and brew- 
ing, marrying and visiting, in the old humdrum 
way. They made fortunes, and hoarded up heaps 
of money. But they were often obliging and be- 
nevolent ; it gave them pleasure to bestow gifts, 
to lend and borrow, and sometimes, alas ! to steal. 
They played prettily on musical instruments, and 
were very jolly. People used to see the stumpy 
little children of the genteel Troll who lived at 
Kund in Jutland, climbing up the knoll which 
was the roof of their own house, and rolling down 
one after the other with shouts of laughter. The 
Trolls were famous gymnasts, and very plump and 



round. Our word " droll " is left to us in merry 
remembrance of them. 

They were tractable creatures, as you may know 
from the tale of the farmer, who, ploughing an 

THE troll's children. 

angry Troll's land, agreed, for the sake of peace, 
to go halves in the crops sown upon it, so that 
one year the Troll should have what grew above 
ground, and the next year what grew under. But 
the sly farmer planted radishes and carrots, and 


the Troll took the tops; and the following season 
he planted corn ; and his queer partner gathered 
up the roots and marched off in triumph. In- 
deed, it was so easy to outwit the simple Troll 
that a generous farmer would never have pla3'ed 
the game out, and we should have lost our little 
story. It was mean to take advantage of the sweet 
fellow's trustfulness. There was an English school- 
master once, a man wise, firm, and kind, and of 
vast influence, of whom one of his boys said to 
another : " It's a shame to tell a lie to Arnold ; he 
always believes it." That was a ray of real chiv- 

The Spriggans were fond of dwelling near walls 
and loose stones, with which it was unlucky to 
tamper, and where they slipped in and out with 
suspicious eyes, guarding their buried treasure. 
If a house was robbed, or the cattle were carried 
away, or a hurricane swooped down on a Cornish 
village, the neighbors attributed their trouble to 
the Spriggans; whereby you may believe they 
had fine reputations for meddlesomeness. Their 
cousins, the Buccas, Bockles or Knockers, were 



gentlemen who went about thumping and rap- 
ping wherever there was a vein of ore for the 
weary workmen, cheating, occasionally, to break 
the monotony. 

The Welsh Coblynau followed the same pro- 
fession, and pointed out 
the desired places in 
mines and quarries. 
The Coblynau were cop- 
per-colored, and very 
homely, as were all the 
pigmies who lived away 
from the sun ; they were 
busybodies, half-a-yard 
high, who imitated the 
dress of their friends the miners, and pegged away 
at the rocks, like them, with great noise and gusto, 
accomplishing nothing. Their houses were far- 
removed from mortal vision, and unlike certain 
proper children, now obsolete, the Coblynau them- 
selves were generally heard, but not seen. 

Their German relation was the Wichtlein (little 
wight) an extremely small fellow, whom the Bohe- 


mians named Hans-schniledlein (little John Smith !) 
because he makes a noise like the stroke of an 

Dwarves and mine-men went about, unfailingly, 
with a purseful of gold. But if anyone snatched 
it from them, only stones and twine and a pair of 
scissors were to be found in it. The Leprechaun, 
or Cluricaune, whom we shall meet later as the 
fairy-cobbler, was an Irish celebrity who knew 
where pots of guineas were hidden, and who car- 
ried in his pocket a shilling often-spent and ever- 
renewed. He looked, in this banker-like capacity, 
a clumsy small boy, dressed in various ways, some- 
times in a long coat and cocked hat, unlike the 
Danish Troll, who kept to homely gray, with the 
universal little red cap. Even the respectable 
Kobold, who was, virtually, a house-spirit, caught 
the fever of fortune-hunting, and often threw up 
his domestic duties to seek the fascinating nug- 
gets in the mines. 

There is a funny anecdote of a Troll who, as 
was common with his race, cunningly concealed 
his prize under the shape of a coal, Now a peas- 

44 "brownies and bogles. 

ant on his way to church one bright Sunday 

morning saw him trying vainly to move a couple 

of crossed straws which had blown upon his coal ; 

for anything in the shape of a cross seemed to 

shrivel up an elf's power in the most startling 

manner. So the little sprite turned, half-crying, 

and begged the peasant to move the straws for 

him. But the man was too shrewd for that, and 

took up the coal, straws and all, and ran, despite 

the poor Troll's screaming, and saw, on reaching 

home, that he had captured a lump of solid gold. 

All Black Elves were particular about their 

neighborhoods, and a whole colony would migrate 

at once if they took the least offence, or if the 

villagers about got "too knowing" for them. 

(An American poet once wrote a sonnet "To 

Science," in which he berated her for having 

made him " too knowing," and for having driven 

— " the Naiad from her flood 
The elfin from the green grass " ; 

and it was in consequence of his very knowiugness, 
no doubt, that, beauty-loving and marvel-loving 
as were his sensitive eyes, they never saw so much 


as the vanishing shadow of a fairy.) A little 
dwarf-woman told two young Bavarians that she 
intended to leave her favorite dwelling, because 
of the shocking cursing and swearing of the coun- 
try-people ! But they were not all so godly. 

Ever since the great god Thor threw his ham- 
mer at the Trolls, they have hated noise as much 
as Mr. Thomas Carlyle, who, however, made 
Thor's own bluster in the world himself. They 
sought sequestered places that they might not be 
disturbed. The Prussian mites near Dardesheim 
were frightened away by the forge and the factory. 
Above all else, church-bells distressed them, and 
spoiled their tem- 
pers. A huckster once 
passed a Danish Troll, 
sitting disconsolately 
on a stone, and asked 
him what the matter 
might be. " I hate to 
leave this country," "i can't stay any longer I" 

blubbered the fat mourner, " but I can't stay where 
there is such an eternal ringing and dinging ! " 



OVER the beautiful Light Elves of the Edda, 
in old Scandinavia, ruled the beloved sun- 
god Frey ; and they lived in a summer land called 
Alfheim, and it was their office to sport in air or 
on the leaves of trees, and to make the earth 

But they changed character as centuries passed ; 
and they came to resemble the fairies of Great 
Britain in their extreme waywardness and fickle- 
ness. For though they were fair and benevolent 
most of the time, they could be, when it so pleased 
them, ugly and hurtful ; and what they could be, 
they very often were ; for fairies were not expected 
to keep a firm rein on their moods and tempers. 

Norwegian peasants described some of their 
Huldrafolk as tiny bare boys, with tall hats ; and 


in Sweden, as well, they were slender and delicate. 
When a Swedish elf-maid or moon-maid wished 
to approach the inmates of a house, she rode on 
a sunbeam through the keyhole, or between the 
openings in a shutter. 

The German wild-women were like them, going 
about alone, and having fine hair flowing to their 
feet. They had some odd traits, one of which was 
sermonizing! and exhorting stray mortals who had 
done them a service, to lead a godly life. 

The elle-maid in Denmark and in neighboring 
countries was always winsome and graceful, and 
carried an enchanted harp. She loved moonlight 
best, and was a charming dancer. But her evil 
element was in her very beauty, with which she en- 
trapped foolish young gentlemen, and waylaid them, 
and carried them off who knows whither ? She 
could be detected by the shape of her back, it 
being hollow, like a spoon ; which was meant to 
show that there was something wrong with her, 
and that she was not what she seemed, but fit 
only for the abhorrence of passers-by. The elle- 
man, her mate, was old and ill-favored, a disa- 


"brownies and bogles." 

greeable person ; for if any one came near him 
while he was bathing in the sun, he opened his 
mouth and breathed pestilence upon them. 


A common trait of the air-fairies was to assist 
at a birth and give the infant, at their will, good 
and bad gifts. Dame Bertha, the White Lady of 



Germany, came to the birth of certain princely 
babes, and the Kerrigans made it a general prac- 


tice. Whenever they nursed or tended a new-born 
mortal, bestowed presents on him and foretold 
his destiny, one of the little people was almost 


always perverse enough to bestow and foretell 
something unfortunate. You all know Grimm's 
beautiful tale of Dornroschen, which in English 
we call The Sleeping Beauty, where the jealous 
thirteenth fairy predicts the poor young lady's 
spindle-wound. Around the famous Roche des 
Fe'es in the forest of Theil, are those who believe 
yet that the elves pass in and out at the chimneys, 
on errands to little children. 

The modern Greek fairies haunted trees, danced 
rounds, bathed in cool water, and carried off 
whomsoever they coveted. A person offending 
them in their own fields was smitten with disease. 

The Chinese Shan Sao were a foot high, lived 
among the mountains, and were afraid of nothing. 
They, too, were revengeful ; for if they were at- 
tacked or annoyed by mortals, they " caused them 
to sicken with alternate heat and cold." Bonfires 
were burnt to drive them away. 

The innocent White Dwarves of the Isle of 
Riigen in the Baltic Sea, made lace-work of silver, 
too fine for the eye to detect, all winter long ; but 
came idly out into the woods and fields with re- 



turning spring, leaping and singing, and wild with 
affectionate joy. They were not allowed to ram- 
ble about in their own shapes ; therefore they 
changed themselves to doves and butterflies, and 


winged their way to good mortals, whom they 
guarded from all harm. 

The Korrigans of Brittainy, mentioned a while 
ago, were peculiar in many ways. They had beau- 
tiful singing voices and bright eyes, but they never 


danced. They preferred to sit still at twilight, 
like mermaids, combing their long golden hair. 
The tallest of them was nearly two feet high, fair 
as a lily, and transparent as dew itself, yet able 
as the rest to seem dark, and humpy, and terrify- 
ing. He who passed the night with them, or 
joined in their sports, was sure to die shortly, 
since their very breath or touch was fatal. And 
again, as in the case of Seigneur Nann, about 
whom a touching Breton ballad was made, they 
doomed to death any who refused to marry one of 
them within three days. 

Of the American Indian fairies we do not know 
much. In Mr. Schoolcraft's books of Indian 
legends there is a beautiful little Bone-dwarf, who 
may almost be considered a fairy. In the land of 
the Sioux they tell the pretty story of Antelope 
and Karkapaha, and how the wee warrior-folk, 
thronging on the hill, clad in deerskin, and armed 
with feathered arrow and spear, put the daring 
heart of a slain enemy into the breast of the timid 
lover, Karkapaha, and made him worthy both to 
win and keep his lovely maiden, and to deserve 



homage for his bravery, from her tribe and his. 
Some of you will remember one thing against the 
Puk-Wudjies, which is an Algonquin name mean- 
ing "little vanishing folk," to wit: that they killed 
Hiawatha's friend, " the very strong man Kwa- 
sind," as our Longfellow called him. He had ex- 
cited their envy, and they flung on his head, as he 
floated in his canoe, the only thing on earth that 
could kill him, the seed-vessel of the white pine. 

The Scotch, Irish and English overground fair- 
ies were, as a general thing, very much alike. 
They had the power of becoming visible or invisi- 
ble, compressing or enlarging their size, and taking 
any shape they pleased. When an Irish Shefro 
was disturbed or angry, and wanted to get a house 
or a person off her grounds, she put on the 
strangest appearances : she could crow, spit fire, 
slap a tail or a hoof about, grin like a dragon, or 
give a frightful, weird, lion-like roar. Of course 
the object of her polite attentions thought it best 
to oblige her. If she and her companions were 
anxious to enter a house, they lifted the spryest of 
their number to the keyhole, and pushed him 


through. He Ci)rried a piece of string, which he 
fastened to the inside knob, and the other end 
to a chair or stool ; and over this perilous bridge 
the whole giggling tribe marched in one by one. 
The Irish and Scotch fays were more mischievous 
than the English, but have not fared so well, hav- 
ing had no memorable verses made about them. 
The little Scots were sometimes dwarfish wild 
creatures, wrapped in their plaids, or, oftener, 
comely and yellow-haired ; the ladies in green 
mantles, inlaid with wild-flowers; and dapper little 
gentlemen in green trousers, fastened with bobs 
of silk. They carried arrows, and went on tiny 
spirited horses, as did the Welsh fairies, " the sil- 
ver bosses of their bridles jingling in the night- 
breeze." An old account of Scotland says that 
they were "clothed in green, with dishevelled hair 
floating over their shoulders, and faces more bloom- 
ing than the vermeil blush of a summer morning." 
Their Welsh cousins were many. A native poet 
once sang of them : 

In every liollow, 

A huiidred vvrv-mouthed elves. 


They were queer little beings, and had notions of 
what was decorous, for they combed the goats' 
beards every Friday night, " to make them decent 
for Sunday ! " They were very quarrelsome ; you 
could hear them snarling and jabbering like jays 
among themselves, so that in some parts of Wales 
a proverb has arisen : " They can no more agree 
than the fairies 1 " The inhabitants believed that 
the midgets never had courage to go through the 
gorse, or prickly furze, which is a common shrub 
in that country. One sick old woman who was 
bothered by the Tylwyth Teg (" the fair family ") 
souring her milk and spilling her tea, used to 
choke up her room with the furze, and make such 
a hedge about the bed, that nothing larger than a 
needle could be so much as pointed at her. In 
Breconshire the Tylwyth Teg gave loaves to the 
peasantry, which, if they were not eaten then and 
there in the dark, would turn in the morning into 
toadstools! When Welsh fairies took it into their 
heads to bestow food and money, very lazy people 
were often supported in great style, without a 
stroke of work. And the Tylwyth Teg loved to 

56 "brownies and bogles." 

reward patience and generosity. They played 
the harp continuously, and, on grand occasions, 
the bugle ; but if a bagpipe was heard among 
them, that indicated a Scotch visitor from over 
the border. 

King James i. of England mentions in his 
Dcemonology a " King and Queene of Phairie : sic 
a jolie courte and traine as they had ! " Nothing 
could have exceeded the state and elegance of 
their ceremonious little lives. According to a 
sweet old play, they had houses made all of 
mother-of-pearl, an ivory tennis-court, a nutmeg 
parlor, a sapphire dairy-room, a ginger hall; cham- 
bers of agate, kitchens of crystal, the jacks of 
gold, the spits of Spanish needles ! They dressed 
in imported cobweb ! with a four-leaved clover, 
lined with a dog-tooth violet, for overcoat; and 
they ate (think of eating such a pretty thing !) deli- 
cious rainbow-tart, the trout-fly's gilded wing, and 

the broke heart of a nightingale 

O'ercome with music. 

But we never heard that Chinese or Scandinavian 
elves could afford such luxury. 


Their English dwellings were often in the bub- 
ble-castles of sunny brooks ; and the bright-jack- 
eted hobgoblins took their i^leasure sitting under 
toadstools, or paddling about in egg-shell boats, 
playing jew's-harps large as themselves. Beside 
the freehold of blossomy hillocks and dingles, 
they had dells of their own, and palaces, with 
everything lovely in them ; and whatever they 
longed for was to be had for the wishing. They 
had fair gardens in clefts of the Cornish rocks, 
where vari-colored flowers, only seen by moonlight, 
grew ; in these gardens they loved to walk, tossing 
a posy to some mortal passing by; but if he ever 
gave it away they were angry with him forever 
after. They liked to fish ; and the crews put out 
to sea in funny uniforms of green, with red caps. 
They travelled on a fern, a rush, a bit of weed, or 
even boldly bestrode the bee and the dragon-fly ; 
and they went to the chase, as in the Isle of 
Man, on full-sized horses whenever they could get 
them ! and when it came to time of war, their ar- 
mies laid-to like Alexander's own, with mushroom- 
shield and bearded grass-blades for mighty spears, 



and honeysuckle trumpets braying furiously ! 
There are traditions of battles so vehement and 
long that the cavalry trampled down the dews of 

the mountain -side, 
and sent many a 
peerless fellow, at 
every charge, to the 
fairy hospitals and 

Their chief and all 
but universal amuse- 
ment, sacred to moon- 
light and music, was 
dancing hand- in- 
hand ; and what was called a fairy-ring was the 
swirl of grasses in a field taller and deeper green 
than the rest, which was supposed to mark their 
circling path. Inside these rings it was consid- 
ered very dangerous to sleep, especially after sun- 
down. If you put your foot within them, with a 
companion's foot upon your own, the elfin tribe 
became visible to you, and you heard their tink- 
ling laughter ; and if, again, you wished a charm 



to defy all their anger, for they hated to be over- 
looked by mortal eyes, you had merely to turn 
your coat inside out. But a house built where the 
wee folks had danced was made prosperous. 

Hear how deftly old John Lyly, nearly four hun- 
dred years ago, put the dancing in his lines : 

Round about, round about, in a fine ling-a, 
Thus we dance, thus we prance, and thus we sing-a ! 
Trip and go, to and fro, over this green-a ; 
All about, in and out, for our brave queen-a. 

For the elves, as we know, were governed gen- 
erally by a queen, who bore a white wand, and 
stood in the centre while her gay retainers skipped 
about her. Fairy-rings were common in every 
Irish parish. At Alnwick in Northumberland 
County in England, was one celebrated from an- 
tiquity ; and it was believed that evil would befall 
any who ran around it more than nine times. 
The children were constantly running it that 
often ; but nothing could tempt the bravest of 
them all to go one step farther. In France, as in 
Wales, the fairies guarded the cromlechs with 
care, and preferred to hold revel near them. 

6o "brownies and bogles." 

At these merry festivals, in the pauses of action, 
meat and drink were passed around. A Danish 
ballad tells how Svend-Falling drained a horn 
presented by elf-maids, which made him as strong 
as twelve men, and gave him the appetite of twelve 
men, too ; a natural but embarrassing consequence. 
It used to be proclaimed that any one daring 
enough to rush on a fairy feast, and snatch the 
drinking-glass, and get away with it, would be 
lucky henceforward. The famous goblet, the 
Luck of Edenhall, was seized after that fashion, 
by one of the Musgraves ; whereat the little peo- 
ple disappeared, crying aloud : 

If that glass do break or fall, 
Farewell the Luck of Edenhall ! 

Once upon a time the Duke of Wharton dined at 
Edenhall, and came very near ruining his host, 
and all his race ; for the precious Luck slipped 
from his hand ; but the clever butler at his elbow 
happily caught it in his napkin, and averted the 
catastrophe : so the beautiful cup and the favored 
family enjoy each other in security to this day. 


In the Song of Sir Olaf, we are told how he fell 

in, while riding by night, with the whirling elves; 

and how, after their every plea and threat that he 

should stay from his to-be-wedded sweetheart at 

home, and dance, instead, with them, he hears the 

weird French refrain : 

O the dance, the dance ! How well the dance goes under 
the trees ! 

And through their wicked magic, after all his 
steadfast resistance, with the wild music and the 
dizzy measure whirling in his brain, there he 

All the gay, unsteady, fantastic motion broke 
up at the morning cock-crow, and instantly the 
little bacchantes vanished. And, strangest of all ! 
the betraying flash of the dawn showed their 
peach-like color, their blonde, smooth hair, and 
bodily agility changed, like a Dead Sea apple, and 
turned into ugliness and distortion ! It was not the 
lovely vision of a minute back which hurried away 
on the early breeze, but a crowd of leering, sullen- 
eyed bugaboos, laughing fiercely to think how 
they had deceived a beholder. 


These, then, were the Light Elves, not all lova- 
ble, or loyal, or gentle, as they were expected to 
be, but cruel to wayfarers like poor Sir Olaf, and 
treacherous and mocking; beautiful so long as 
they were good, and hideous when they had done 
a foul deed. It is hard to say wherein they were 
better than the Underground Elves, who were, 
despite some kindly characteristics, professional 
doers of evil, and had not the choice or chance 
of being so happy and fortunate. But we record 
them as we find them, not without the sobering 
thought that here, as at every point, the fairies 
are a running commentary on the puzzle of our 
own human life. • 



BROWNIE, the willing drudge, the kind little 
housemate, was the most popular of all 
fairies ; and it is he whom we now love and know 

He was a sweet, unselfish fellow; but very wide 
awake as well, full of mischief, and spirited as a 
young eagle, when he was deprived of his rights. 
He belonged to a tribe of great influence and 
size, and each division of that tribe, inhabiting 
different countries, bore a different name. But 
the word Brownie, to English-speaking people, 
will serve as meaning those fairies who attached 
themselves persistently to any spot or any family, 
and who labored in behalf of their chosen home. 

The Brownie proper belonged to the Shetland 
and the Western Isles, to Cornwall, and the High- 

64 "brownies and bogles." 

lands and Borderlands of Scotland. He was an 
indoor gentleman, and varied in that from our 
friends the Black and Light Elves. He took up 
his dwelling in the house or the barn, sometimes 
in a special corner, or under the roof, or even in 
the cellar pantries, where he ate a great deal 
more than was good for him. In the beginning he 
was supposed to have been covered with short 
curly brown hair, like a clipped water-spaniel, 
whence his name. But he changed greatly in 
appearance. Later accounts picture him with a 
homely, sunburnt little face, as if bronzed with 
long wind and weather : dark-coated, red-capped, 
and shod with noiseless slippers, which were as 
good as wings to his restless feet. Along with 
him, in Scotch houses, and in English houses 
supplanting him, often lived the Dobie or Dobbie 
who was not by any means so bright and active 
(" O, ye stupid Dobie ! " runs a common phrase), 
and therefore not to be confounded with him. 

Brownie's delight was to do domestic service ; he 
churned, baked, brewed, mowed, threshed, swept, 
scrubbed, and dusted ; he set things in order, 

t)EAR bkOWNlfe. 


saved many a step to his mistress, and took it 
upon himself to manage the maid-servants, and 
reform them, if necessary, by severe and original 

brownie's delight was to no domestic service. 

measures. Neatness and precision he dearly 
loved, and never forgot to drop a penny over-night 
in the shoe of the person deserving well of him. 
But lax offenders he pinched black and blue, and 


led them an exciting life of it. His favorite re- 
venge, among a hundred equally ingenious, was 
dragging the disorderly servant out of bed. A 
great poet announced in Brownie's name : 

'Twixt sleep and wake 

I do them take, 

And on the key-cold floor them throw! 

If out they cry 

Then forth I fly, 

And loudly laugh I : " Ho, ho, ho ! " 

Like all gnomes truly virtuous, he could be the 
worst varlet, the most meddlesome, troublesome, 
burdensome urchin to be imagined, when the whim 
was upon him. At such times he gloried in un- 
doing all his good deeds ; and by way of empha- 
sizing his former tidiness and industrj*, he tore 
curtains, smashed dishes, overturned tables, and 
made havoc among the kitchen-pans. All this 
was done in a sort of holy wrath ; for be it to 
Brownie's credit, that if he were treated with 
courtesy, and if the servants did their own duties 
honestly, he was never other than his gentle, well- 
behaved, hard-working little self. 


He asked no wages; he had a New England 
scorn of " tipping," when he had been especially 
obliging; and he could not be wheedled into ac- 
cepting even so much as a word of praise. A 
•farmer at Washington, in Sussex, England, who 
had often been surprised in the morning at the 
large heaps of corn threshed for him during the 
night, determined at last to sit up and watch what 
went on. Creeping to the barn-door, and peering 
through a chink, he saw two manikins working 
away with their fairy flails, and stopping an in- 
stant now and then, only to say to each other: 
" See how I sweat ! See how I sweat ! " the very 
thing which befell Milton's "lubbar fiend" in 
L' Allegro. The farmer, in his pleasure, cried : 
" Well done, my little men ! " whereupon the star- 
tled sprites uttered a cry, and whirled and whisked 
out of sight, never to toil again in his barn. 

It is said that not long ago, there was a whole 
tribe of tiny, naked Kobolds (Brownie's German 
name) called Heinzelmanchen, who bound them- 
selves for love to a tailor of Cologne, and did, 
moreover, all the washing and scouring and kettle- 


cleaning for his wife. Whatever work there was 
left for them to do was straightway done ; but no 
man ever beheld them. The tailor's prying spouse 
played many a ruse to get sight of them, to no 
avail. And they, knowing her curiosity and grieved 
at it, suddenly marched, with music playing, out 
of the town forever. People heard their flutes 
and viols only, for none saw the little exiles them- 
selves, who got into a boat, and sailed "westward, 
westward ! " like Hiawatha, and the city's luck is 
thought to have gone with them. 

B|it Brownie, who would take neither money, 
nor thanks, nor a glance of mortal eyes, and who 
departed in high dudgeon as soon as a reward 
was offered him, could be bribed very prettily, if 
it were done in a polite and secretive way. He 
was not too scrupulous to pocket whatever might 
be dropped on a stair, or a window-sill, where he 
was sure to pass several times in a day, and walk 
off, whistling, to keep his own counsel, and say 
nothing about it. And for goodies, mysterious 
goodies left m queer places by chance, he had 
excellent tooth. Housewives, from the era of 


the first Brownie, never failed slyly to gladden his 
favorite haunt with the dish which he liked best, 
and which, so long as it was fresh and plentiful, 
he considered a satisfactory squaring-up of ac- 
counts. One of these desired treats was knuckled 
cakes, made of meal warm from the mill, toasted 
over the embers, and spread with honey. To 
other tidbits, also, he was partial ; but, first and 
last, he relished his bowl of cream left on the 
floor overnight. Cream he drank and expected 
the world over ; and in Devon, and in the Isle of 
Man, he liked a basin of water for a bath. . 

Fine clothes were quite to his mind ; he was 
very vain when he had them; and it was what Pet 
Marjorie called " majestick pride," and no whim 
of anger or sensitiveness, which sent him hurry- 
ing ofif the moment his wardrobe was supplied by 
some grateful housekeeper, to eschew work for- 
ever after, and set himself up as a gentleman of 
leisure. Many funny stories are told of his be- 
havior under an unexpected shower of dry goods. 
Brownie, who in his humble station, was so stead- 
fast and sensible, had his poor head completely 



turned b)' the vision of a new bright-colored 
jacket. The gentle little Piskies or Pixies of 
Devonshire, who are of the Brownie race, and 


very different from the malicious Piskies in Corn- 
wall, were likewise great dandies, and sure to 
decamp as soon as ever they obtained a fresh cap 


or petticoat. Indeed, they dropped violent hints 
on the subject. Think of a sprite-of-all-work, re- 
corded as being too proud to accept any regular 
payment even in fruit or grain, standing up bra- 
zenly before his mistress, his sly eyes fixed on 
her, drawling out this absurd, whimpering rhyme 
(for Piskies scorned to talk prose !) : 

Little risky, fair and slim, 
Without a rag to cover him ! 

With his lisp, and his funny snicker, and his 

winning impudence generally, don't you think he 

could have wheedled clothes out of a stone ? Of 

course the lady humored him, and made him a 

costly, trimmed suit; and the ungrateful small 

beggar mads off with it post-haste, chanting to 

another tune : 

Pisky fine, Pisky gay ! 
Pisky now will run away. 

The moment the Brownie-folk could cut a re- 
spectable figure in fashionable garments, they 
turned their backs on an honest living, and skur- 
ried away to astonish the belles in Fairyland. 

Very much the same thing befell some German 

72 "rrownies and bogles. 

house-dwarves, who used to help a poor smith, 
and make his kettles and pans for him. They 
took their milk evening by evening, and went 
back gladly to their work, to the smith's great 
profit and pleasure. When he had grown rich, 
his thankful wife made them pretty crimson coats 
and caps, and laid both where the wee creatures 
might stumble on them. But when they had put 
the uniforms on, they shrieked " Paid off, paid 
off ! " and, quitting a task half-done, returned no 

The Pisky was not alone in his bold request 
for his sordid little heart's desire. A certain 
Piick lived thirty years in a monastery in Meck- 
lenburg, Germany, doing faithful drudgery from 
his youth up ; and one of the monks wrote, in his 
ingenious Latin, that on going away, all he asked 
was '■'tufiicam de diversis coloribus, et tintitmabulis 
plaiam!" You may put the goblin's vanity into 
English for yourselves. Brownie is known as 
Shelley-coat in parts of Scotland, from a German 
term meaning bell, as he wears a bell, like the 
Riigen Dwarves, on his parti-colored coat. 



The famous Cauld Lad of Hilton was con- 
sidered a Brownie. If everything was left well- 
arranged in the rooms, he amused himself by 

•' Tunicam de diversis coloribus, et tintinnabulis plenani ' " WAS 


night with pitching chairs and vases about ; but if 
he found the place in confusion, he kindly went 
to work and put it in exquisite order. But the 
Cauld Lad was, more likely, by his own confession, 

74 "brownies and bogles. 

a ghost, and no true fairy. Romances were told 
of him, and he had been heard to sing this canti- 
cle, which makes you wonder whether he had ever 
heard of the House that Jack Built : 

Wae's me, wae's nie ! 
The acorn's not yet fallen from the tree 
That's to grow the wood that's to make the cradle 
That's to rock the bairn that's to grow to the man 

That's to lay me ! 

It was only ghosts who could be "laid," and to 
"lay" him meant to give him freedom and re- 
lease, so that he need no longer go about in that 
bareboned and mournful state. 

But the merriest grig of all the Brownies was 
called in Southern Scotland, Wag-at-the-Wa'. He 
teased the kitchen-maids much by sitting under 
their feet at the hearth, or on the iron crook 
which hung from the beam in the chimney, and 
which, of old, was meant to accommodate pots 
and kettles. He loved children, and he loved 
jokes ; his laugh was very distinct and pleasant ; 
but if he heard of anybody drinking anything 
stronger than home-brewed ale, he would cough 



virtuously, and frown upon the company. Now 
Wag-at-the-Wa' had the toothache all the time, 
and, considering his 
twinges, was it not 
good of him to be 
so cheerful ? He 
wore a great red- 
woollen coat and 
blue trousers, and 
sometimes a grey 
cloak over; and he 
shivered even then, 
with one side of his 
poor face bundled 
up, till his head 
seemed big as a cab- 
bage. He looked 
impish and wrinkled, 
too, and had short 
bent legs. But his 
beautiful, clever tail atoned for everything, and 
with it, he kept his seat on the swinging crook. 
Scotch fairies called Powries and Dunters 

" wag-at-the-wa'." 

7$ "brownies and bogles.'' 

haunted lonely Border-mansions, and behaved like 
peaceable subjects, beating flax from year to year. 
The Dutch Kaboutermannekin worked in mills, as 
well as in houses. He was gentle and kind, but 
** touchy," as Brownie-people are. Though he 
dressed gayly in red, he was not pretty, but 
boasted a fine green tint on his face and hands. 
Little Killmoulis was a mill-haunting brother of 
his, who loved to lie before the fireplace in the 
kiln. This precious old employee was blest with 
a most enormous nose, and with no mouth at all ! 
But he had a great appetite for pork, however he 
managed to gratify it, 

Bolieta, a Swiss Kobold, distinguished himself 
by leading cows safely through the dangerous 
mountain-paths, and keeping them sleek and 
happy. His branch of the family lived as often 
in the trunk of a near tree, as in the house itself. 

In Denmark and Sweden was the Kirkegrim, 
the " church lamb," who sometimes ran along the 
aisles and the choir after ser\nce-time, and to the 
grave-digger betokened the death of a little child. 
But there was another Kirkegrim, a proper church- 


Brownie, who kept the pews neat, and looked 
after people who misbehaved during the sermon. 

As queer as any of these was the Phynodderee, 
or the Hairy One, the Isle of Man house-helper. 
He was a wild little shaggy being, supposed to be 
an exile from fairy society, and condemned to 
wander about alone until doomsday. He was 
kind and obliging, and drove the sheep home, or 
gathered in the hay, if he saw a storm coming. 

The Klabautermann was a ship-Brownie, who 
sat under the capstan, and in time of danger, 
warned the crew by running up and down the 
shrouds in great excitement. This eccentric Fly- 
ing Dutchman had a fiery red head, and on it a 
steeple-like hat ; his yellow breeches were tucked 
into heavy horseman's boots. 

HUttchen was a German Brownie, who lived at 
court, but who dressed like a little peasant, with 
a flapping felt hat over his eyes. The Alraun, 
a sort of house-imp shorn of all his engaging 
diligence, was very small, his body being made 
of a root ; he lived in a bottle. If he was thrown 
away, back he came, persistently as a rubber ball. 


But that instinct was common to the Brownie 

The Roman Penates, Vinculi terrei, which brave 
old Reginald Scott called " domesticall gods," 
were Brownie's venerable and honorable ances- 
tors. We shall see presently v.-hat names their 
descendants bore in various countries. But the 
Russian Domovoi we shall not count among them, 
because they were ghostly, like the poor Cauld 
Lad, and seem to have been full-sized. 



IN modern Greece the Brownie was known as 
the Stoechia. He was called Para in Fin- 
land ; Trasgo or Duende in Spain ; Lutin, Gobe- 
lin, Follet, in France and Normandy ; Niss-god- 
drange in Norway and Denmark ; Tomte, in 
Sweden ; Niss in Jutland, Denmark and Fries- 
land ; Bwbach or Pwcca in Wales ; in Ireland, Fir- 
Darrig and, sometimes, Cluricaune; Kobold, in 
Germany ; and in England, Brownie figured as 
Boggart, Puck, Hobgoblin, and Robin Goodfellow. 

Often the Stoechia, a wayward little black being, 
went about the house under the shape of a lizard 
or small snake. He was harmless ; his presence 
was an omen of prosperity ; and great care was 
taken that no disrespect was shown him. 

The services of the Para, who was a well-mean- 


8o "brownies and bogles." 

ing rascal, were rather singular, and not at all in- 
dispensable. He had a way of following the 
neighbor's cows to pasture, and milking them him- 
self, in a calf's fashion, until he had swallowed 
quart on quart, and was as full as a little hogs- 
head. Then he went home, uncorked his thiev- 
ing throat, and obligingly emptied every drop of 
his ill-gotten goods into his master's churn ! How 
his feelings must have been hurt if anybody crit- 
icized the cheese and butter ! 

The Spanish house-goblin was a statelier person, 
and wore an enormous plumed hat, and threw 
stones in a stolid and haughty manner at people 
he disliked. But occasionally the Duende had 
the form of a little busy friar, like the Mona- 
chiello at Naples. 

The Lutin, or Gobelin, or Follet of French be- 
lief, was likewise a stone-thrower. He was fond 
of children, and of horses ; taking it upon himself 
to feed and caress his landlord's children when 
they were good, and to whip them when they were 
naughty ; and he rode the willing horses, and 
combed them, and plaited their manes into knotty 


braids, for which, we may fear, the stable-boy never 

thanked him. He knew, too, how to worry and 

tease ; and certain French mothers threatened 

troublesome little folk with the " Gobelin : " " Le 

gobelin vous mangeraf" which we may translate 

into : " The goblin will gobble you ! " or into the 

v/himsical lines of an American poet : 

The gobble uns'll git you, 





The Norwegian Nis was like a strong-shoul- 
dered child, in a coat and peaky cap, who carried 
a pretty blue light at night. He enjoyed hopping 
or skating across the farmyard under the moon's 
ray. Dogs he would not allow in his house. If 
he was first promised a gray sheep for his own, he 
would teach any one to play the violin. Like 
many another of the Brownie race, he was a 
dandy, and loved nothing better than fine clothes. 

Tomte of Sweden lived in a tree near the 
house. He was as tall as a year-old boy, with a 

82 "brownies and bogles." 

knowing old face beneath his cap. In harvest- 
time he tugged away at one straw, or one grain, 
until he laid it in his master's barn; for his 
strength was not much greater than an ant's. If 
the farmer scorned his diligent little servant, and 
made fun of his tiny load, all luck departed from 
him, and the Tomte went away in anger. He 
liked tobacco, played merry pranks, and doubled 
up comically when he laughed. But he had an- 
other laugh, scoffing and sarcastic, which he some- 
times gave at the top of his voice. 

Like the Devon Piskies, the Niss-Puk required 
water left at his disposal over-night. The Nis of 
Jutland was the Puk of Friesland. He also liked 
his porridge with butter. He lived under the 
roof, or in dark corners of the stable and house. 
He was of the Tomte's size ; he wore red stock- 
ings on his stumpy little legs, and a pointed red 
cap, and a long gray or green coat. For soft, 
easy slippers he had a great longing; and if a 
pair were left out for him, he was soon heard 
shuffling in them over the floor. He had long 
arms, and a big head, and big bright eyes, so that 


the people of Silt have a saying concerning an in- 
quisitive or astonished person ; " He stares like a 
Puk." Puk, too, played sorry tricks on the serv- 
ants, and was indignant if he was ever deprived 
of his nightly bowl of groute. 

The Bwbach of Wales churned the cream, and 
begged for his portion, like a true Brownie ; he 
was a hairy blackamoor with the best-natured grin 
in the world. But he had an unpleasant habit of 
whisking mortals into the air, and doing flighty 
mischiefs generally. 

The unique Irish Cluricaune, who had that 
name in Cork, was called Luricaune and Lepre- 
chaun in other parts of the country. He differed 
from the Shefro in living alone, and in his queer 
appearance and habits. For though he was a 
house-spirit and did house-work, his ambitions ran 
in an opposite direction, and in his every spare 
minute, when he was not smoking or drinking, 
you might have seen him, a miniature old man, 
with a cocked hat, and a leather apron, sitting on 
a low stool, humming a fairy-tune, and perpetually 
cobbling at a pair of shoes no bigger than acorns. 



The shoes were occasionally captured and shown. 
And as we have seen, Mr. Cluricaune was a for- 
tune-hunter, and a very wide-awake, versatile gob- 
lin altogether. In his capacity of Brownie, he 

once wreaked a 
hard revenge on 
a maid who 
served him shab- 
bily. A Mr. Har- 
ris, a Quaker, 
had on his farm 
a C 1 u ricaune 
named Little 
W i 1 d b e a m . 
Whenever the 
servants left the 
beer-barrel run- 


ning through negligence, Little Wildbeam wedged 
himself into the cock, and stopped the flow, 
at great inconvenience to his poor little body, 
until some one came to turn the knob. So the 
master bade the cook always put a good din- 
ner down cellar for Little Wildbeam. One Friday 


she had nothing but part of a herring, and some 
cold potatoes, whicli she left in place of the usual 
feast. That very midnight the fat cook got pulled 
out of bed, and thrown down the cellar-stairs, bump- 
ing from side to side, so that it made her very sore 
indeed , and meanwhile the smirking Cluricaune 
stood at the head of the steps, and sang at the 
luckless heap below : 

Molly Jones, Molly Jones ! 
Potato-skin and herring-bones ! 
I'll knock your head against the stones, 
Molly Jones ! 

In Japanese houses, even, Brownies were fa- 
miliar comers and goers. They were important 
and smooth-mannered pigmies, and serenely dealt 
out rewards and punishments as they saw fit. 
When they were engaged in befriending commend- 
able boys and girls, their features had, somehow, 
the ingenious likeness of letters signifying " good ; " 
and if they made it their business to plague and 
hinder naughty idlers, who, instead of doing their 
errands promptly, stopped at the shops to buy 
goodies, their queer little faces were screwed up 



to mean " bad," as you see in Japanese artists' 

The English names for the affable Brownie-folk 
bring to our minds the most wayward, frolicsome 
elves of all fairydom. Boggart was the York- 


shire sprite, and the Boggart commonly disliked 
children, and stole their food and playthings ; 
wherein he differed from his kindly kindred. Hob- 
goblin (Hop-goblin) was so called because he 
hopped on one leg. Hobgoblin is the same as 
Rob or Bob-Goblin, a goblin whose full name 



seemed to be Robert. Robin Hood, the famous 
outlaw, dear to all of us, was thought to have 
been christened after Robin Hood the fairy, be- 
cause he, too, was tricksy and sportive, wore a 
hood, and lived in the deep forest. 

In Ireland lived the mocking, whimsical little 
Fir-Darrig, Rob- 
in Goodfellow's 
own twin. He 
dressed in tight- 
fitting red ; Fir- 
Darrig itself 
meant " the red 
man.'' He had 
big h u m o r o u s 
ears, and the 
softest and most flexible voice in the world, which 
could mimic any sound at will. He sat by the 
fire, and smoked a pipe, big as himself, belong- 
ing to the man of the house. He loved cleanli- 
ness, brought good-luck to his abode, and, like a 
cat, generally preferred places to people. 

Puck and Robin Goodfellow were the names 

88 "brownies and bogles." 

best known and cherished. There is no doubt 
that Shakespeare, from whom we have now our 
prevailing idea of Puck, got the idea of him, in 
his turn, from the popular superstitions of his day. 
But Puck's very identity was all but forgotten, and 
since Shakespeare was, therefore, his poetical 
creator, we will forego mention of him here, and 
entitle Robin Goodfellow, the same "shrewd and 
meddling elf," under another nickname, the true 
Brownie of England. 

He was both House-Helper and Mischief-Maker, 
" the most active and extraordinary fellow of a 
fairy," says Ritson, " that we anywhere meet with." 
He was said to have had a supplementary brother 
called Robin Badfellow ; but there was no need 
of that, because he was Robin Badfellow in him- 
self, and united in his whimsical little character 
so many opposite qualities, that he may be con- 
sidered the representative elf the world over ; for 
the old Saxon Hudkin, the Niss of Scandinavia, 
and Knecht Ruprecht, the Robin of Germany, 
are nothing but our masquerading goblin-friend on 
continental soil. And in the red-capped smiling 


Mikumwess among the Passamaquoddy Indians, 
there he is again ! 

By this name of Robin he was known earlier 
than the thirteenth century, and " famosed in everie 
olde wives' chronicle for his mad merrie prankes," 
two hundred years later. His biography was put 
forth in a black-letter tract in 1628, and in a yet 
better-known ballad which recited his jests, and 
was in free circulation while Queen Bess was reign- 
ing. The forgotten annalist says very heartily, 
alluding to his string of aliases : 

But call liim by what name you list ; 
I have studied on my pillow, 
And think the name he best deserves 
Is Robin, the Good Fellow ! 

We class him rightly as a Brownie, because he 
skimmed milk, knew all about domestic life, and 
was the delight or terror of servants, as the case 
might be. He was fond of making a noise and 
clatter on the stairs, of playing harps, ringing bells, 
and misleading passing travellers ; and despite 
his knavery, he came to be much beloved by his 
house-mates, Very like him was the German Hem- 


pelman, who laughed a great deal. But the laugh 
of Master Robin sometimes foreboded trouble and 
death to people, which Henipelman's never did. 

The jolly German Kobold had a laugh which 
filled his throat, and could be heard a mile away. 
Bu he was a gnome malignant enough if he was 
neglected or insulted. He very seldom made a 
mine-sprite of himself, but stayed at home, Brown- 
ie-like, and " ran " the house pretty much as he 
saw fit. To the Dwarves he was, however, closely 
related, and dressed after their fashion, except 
that sometimes he wore a coat of as many colors 
as the rainbow, with tinkling bells fastened to it. 
He objected to any chopping or spinning done on 
a Thursday. Change of servants, while he held 
his throne in the kitchen, affected him not in the 
least ; for the maid going away recommended her 
successor to treat him civilly, at her peril. A very 
remarkable Kobold was Hinzelmann, who called 
himself a Christian, and came to the old castle of 
Hiidemiihlen in 1584; whose history, too long to 
add here, is given charmingly in Mr. Keightley's 
Fairy Mythology. 


A certain bearded little Kobold lived with some 
fishermen in a hut, and tried a trick which was 
quite classic, and reminds one of the Greek story 
of Procrustes, which all of you have met with, or 
will meet with, some day. Says Mr. Benjamin 
Thorpe : " His chief amusement, when the fisher- 
men were lying asleep at night, was to lay them 
even. For this purpose he would first draw them 
up until their heads all lay in a straight line, but 
then their legs would be out of the line ! and he 
had to go to their feet and pull them up until the 
tips of their toes were all in a row. This game he 
would continue till broad daylight." 

Now all Brownies, Nissen, Kobolds and the 
rest, were very much of a piece, and when you 
know the virtues and faults of one of them, you 
know the habits of the race. So that you can un- 
derstand, despite the slight but steady help given 
in household matters, that a joerson so variable 
and exacting and high-tempered as this curious 
little sprite might happen sometimes to be a great 
bore, and might inspire his master or mistress 
with the sighing wish to be rid of him. It was a 


tradition in Normandy that to shake off the Lutin 
or Gobelin, it was merely necessary to scatter 
flax-seed where he was wont to pass ; for he was 
too neat to let it lie there, and yet tired so soon 
of picking it up, that he left it in disgust, and 
went away for good. And there was a sprite 
named Flerus who lived in a farm-house near Os- 
tend, and worked so hard, sweeping and drawing 
water, and turning himself into a plough-horse 
that he might replace the old horse who was sick, 
for no reward, either, save a little fresh sugared 
milk — that soon his master was the wealthiest 
man in the neighborhood. But a giddy young 
servant-maid once offended him, at the day's end, 
by giving him garlic in his milk ; and as soon as 
poor Flerus tasted it, he departed, very wrathful 
and hurt, from the premises, forever. 

There were few such successful instances on 
record. Though Brownie was ready, in every 
land under the sun, to leave home when he took 
the fancy, or when he was puffed up with gifts of 
lace and velvet, so that no mortal residence was 
gorgeous enough for him, yet he would take no 



hint, nor obey any command, when either pointed 
to a banishment. 

Near Kopenick once, a man thought of buying 
a new house, and turning his back on a vexatious 


Kobold. The morning before he meant to change 
quarters, he saw his Kobold sitting by a pool, and 
asked him what he was doing. " I am doing my 
washing! " said the sharp rogue, "because we 


move to-morrow." And the man saw very well 
that as he could not avoid him, he had better take 
the little nuisance along. The same thing hap- 
pened in the capital Polish anecdote of Iskrzycki 
(make your respects to his excruciating name!) 
and over Northern Europe the sarcastic joke "Yes, 
we're flitting ! " prevails in folk-song and story. 

There is many and many an example of families 
selling the old house, and going off in great glee 
with the furniture, thinking the elf-rascal cheated 
and left behind ; and lo ! there he was, perched 
on a rope, or peering from a hole in the cart itself, 
on his congratulated master. 

The funniest hap of all befell an ungrateful 
farmer who fired his barn to burn the poor Ko- 
bold in it. As he was driving off, he turned to 
look at the blaze, and what should he see on the 
seat behind him but the same excited Kobold, 
chattering, monkey-like, and shrieking sympathiz- 
ingly : " It was about time for us to get out of that, 
wasn't it ? " 

The dark-skinned little house-sprites came to 
stay ; and as for being snubbed, they were quite 


above it. They were the sort of callers to whom 
you could never show the door, with any dignity ; 
for if you had done so, the grinning goblin would 
have examined knob and panels with a squinted 
sye, and gone back whistling to your easy-chair. 



OF old, there were Oreads and Naiads to peo- 
ple the rivers and the sea, but they were 
not fairies; and in after-years the beautiful, bright 
water-life of Greece, with its shells and dolphins, 
its palaces, its subaqueous music, and its happy- 
hearted maids and men, faded wholly out of mem- 
ory. No one dominant race came to replace them. 
Merpeople, Tritons and Sirens we meet now and 
then, as did Hendrik Hudson's crew, and the 
Moruachs of Ireland, the Morverch (sea-daughters) 
of Brittainy ; but they, too, were grown, and half- 
human. They were beautiful and swift, and usually 
sat combing their long hair, with a mirror in one 
hand, and their glossy tails tapering from the waist. 
The Danish Mermaid was gold-haired, cunning 
and treacherous ; the Havmand or Merman was 


handsome, too, with black hair and beard, but kind 
and beneficent. 

The Swedish pair ofifered presents to those on 
shore, or passing in boats, in hopes to sink them 
beneath the waves. 

England and Ireland had no water-sprites which 
answered to the Nix and the Kelpie, only the Mer- 
row, who was a Mermaid. She was a fair woman, 
with white, webbed fingers. She carried upon her 
head a little diving-cap, and when she came up to 
the rocks or the beach, she laid it by ; but if it 
were stolen from her, she lost the power of return- 
ing to the sea. So that if her cap were taken by a 
young man, she very often could do nothing better 
than to marry him, and spend her time hunting 
for it up and down over his house. And once she 
had found it, she forgot all else but her desire to 
go home to " the kind sea-caves," and despite the 
calling of her neighbors and husband and chil- 
dren, she flitted to the shore, and plunged into the 
first oncoming billow, and walked the earth no 

Tales of these spirit-brides who suddenly de- 


"brownies and bogles." 

serted the green earth for their dear native waters, 
are common in Arabian and European folk-lore. 
And this characteristic was noted also in the Sea- 
trows of the Shetland Islands, who divested them- 
selves of a shining fish-skin, and could not find the 


way to their ocean-beds if it were kept out of their 
reach. It was the Danish sailor's belief that seals 
laid by their skins every ninth night, and took 
maiden's forms wherewith to sport and sleep on the 
reefs. And for their capture as they were, warm. 


living and human, one had only to snatch and hide 
away their talisman-skin. 

The strange German Water-man wore a green 
hat, and when he opened his mouth, his teeth as 
well were green ; he appeared to girls who passed 
his lake, and measured out ribbon, and flung it to 

But we must search for smaller sprites than 

The little water-fairies who devoted themselves 
to drawing under whomsoever encroached on their 
pools and brooks, were called Nixies in Germany, 
Kerrigans (for this was part of their office) in Brit- 
tainy ; Ondins about Magdebourg, and Roussalkis, 
the long-haired, smiling ones, among the Slavic 

The engaging Nixies were very minute and mis- 
chievous, and abounded in the Shetland Isles and 
Cornwall, as did, moreover, the Kelpies, who were 
like tiny horses, known even in China; sporting on 
the margin, and foreboding death by drowning, to 
any who beheld them; or tempting passers-by to 
mount, and plunging, with their victims, headlong 



into the deep. The Nix-lady was recognized when 
she came on shore by the edges of her dress or 
apron being perpetually wet. The dark-eyed Nix- 
man with his seaweed hair and his wide hat, was 
known by his slit ears and feet, which he was very 


careful to conceal. Once in a while he was ob- 
served to be half-fish. The naked Nixen were 
draped with moss and kelp; but when they were 
clothed, they seemed merely little men and women, 
save that the borders of their garments, dripping 
water, betrayed them. They did their marketing 
ashore, wheresoever they were, and, according to 



all accounts, with a sharp eye to economy. 
Like the land-elves, they loved to dance and 
sing. Nix did not favor divers, fishermen, and 

other intrud- 
ers on his terri- 
tory, and he did 

his best 
to harm them. 
He was altogether 
a fierce, grudging, 


covetous little crea- 
ture. His comelier wife was much better-natured, 
and befriended human beings to the utmost of 
her power. 

Near Ghent was a little old Nix who lived in the 
Scheldt; he cried and sighed much, and did mis- 
chief to no one. It grieved him when children ran 
away from him, yet if they asked what troubled his 
conscience, he only sighed heavily, and disappeared. 


The modern Greeks believed in a black sprite 
haunting wells and springs, who was fond of beck- 
oning to strangers. If they came to him, he be- 
stowed gifts upon them ; if not, he never seemed 
angry, but turned patiently to wait for the next 

There was a curious sea-creature in Norway, 
who swam about as a thin little old man with no 
head. About the magical Isle of Riigen lived the 
Nickel. His favorite game was to astonish the fish- 
ers, by hauling their boats up among the trees. 

At Aries and other towns near the Spanish bor- 
der in France, were the Dracs, who inhabited clear 
pools and streams, and floated along in the shape 
of gold rings and cups, so that women and chil- 
dren bathing should grasp them, and be lured 

The Indian water-manittos, the Nibanaba, were 
winning in appearance, and wicked in disposition. 
They, joining the Pukwudjinies, helped to kill 

In Wales were the Gwragedd Annwn, elves who 
loved the stillness of lonely mountain-lakes, and 


who seldom ventured into the upper world. They 
had their own submerged towns and battlements ; 
and from their little sunken city the fairy-bells sent 
out, ever and anon, mufifled silver voices. The 
Gwragedd Annwn were not fishy-finned, nor were 
they ever dwellers in the sea; for in Wales were 
no mermaid-traditions, nor any tales of those who 
beguiled mortals — 

Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave. 

The Neck and the Stromkarl of Swedish rivers 
were two little chaps with hardly a hair's breadth 
of difference. Either appeared under various 
shapes; now as a green-hatted old man with a long 
beard, out of which he wrung water as he sat on the 
cliffs ; now loitering of a summer night on the sur- 
face, like a chip of wood or a leaf, he seemed a fair 
child, harping, with yellow ringlets falling from be- 
neath a high red cap to his shoulders. Both fair- 
ies had a genius for music ; and the Stromkarl, 
especially, had one most marvellous tune to which 
he put eleven variations. Now, to ten of them any 
one might dance decorously, and with safety ; but 

I04 "brownies and bogles. 

at the eleventh, which was the enchanted one, all 
the world went mad ; and tables, belfries, benches, 
houses, windmills, trees, horses, cripples, babies, 
ghosts, and whole towns full of sedate citizens 
began capering on the banks about the invisible 
player, and kept it up in furious fashion until the 
last note died away. 

You know that the wren was hunted in certain 
countries on a certain day. Well, here is one 
legend about her. There was a malicious fairy 
once in the Isle of Man, very winsome to look at, 
who worked a sorry Kelpie-trick, on the young men 
of the town, and inveigled them into the sea, where 
they perished. At last the inhabitants rose in 
vengeance, and suspecting her of causing their loss 
and sorrow, gave her chase so hard and fast by 
land, that to save herself, she changed her shape 
into that of an innocent brown wren. And because 
she had been so treacherous, a spell was cast upon 
her, inasmuch as she was obliged every New Year's 
Day to fly about as that same bird, until she should 
be killed by a human hand. And from sunrise to 
sunset, therefore, on the first bleak day of Janu- 


ary, all the men and boys of the island fired at the 
poor wrens, and stoned them, and entrapped them, 
in the hope of reaching the one guilty fairy among 
them. And as they could never be sure that they 
had captured the right one, they kept on year by 
year, chasing and persecuting the whole flock. But 
every dead wren's feather they preserved carefully, 
and believed that it hindered them from drown- 
ing and shipwreck for that twelvemonth ; and they 
took the feathers with them on voyages great and 
small, in order that the bad fairy's magic may 
never be able to prevail, as it had prevailed of yore 
with their unhappy brothers. 

The presence of the sea-fairies had a terror in 
it, and against their arts only the strongest and 
most watchful could hope to be victorious. Their 
sport was to desolate peaceful homes, and bring 
destruction on gallant ships. They, dwelling in 
streams and in the ocean, the world over, were 
like the waters they loved : gracious and noble in 
aspect, and meaning danger and death to the 
unwary. We fear that, like the earth-fairies, they 
were heartless quite. 



But it may be that the gentle Nixies had only a 
blind longing for human society, and would not 
willingly have wrought harm to the creatures of 
another element. We are more willing to urge 
excuses for their wrong-doing than for the like 


fault in our frowzly under-ground folk ; for ugli- 
ness seems, somehow, not so shocking when allied 
with evil as does beauty, which was destined for 
all men's delight and uplifting. As the air-elves 
had their Fairyland whither mortal children wan- 
dered, and whence they returned after an unmeas- 


ured lapse of time, still children, to the ivy-grown 
ruins of their homes, so the water-elves had a 
reward for those they snatched from earth ; and 
legends assure us the wave-rocked prisoners a hun- 
dred fathoms down, never grew old, but kept the 
flush of their last morning rosy ever on their 

Among a little community full of guile, there is 
great comfort in spotting one honest, kind water- 
boy, who, not content with being harmless, as were 
the Flemish and Grecian Nixies, put himself to 
work to do good, and charm away some of the wor- 
ries and ills that burdened the upper world. His 
name was Hob, and he lived in Hobhole, which 
was a cave scooped out by the beating tides in old 

The lean pockets of the neighboring doctors 
were partly attributed to this benignant little 
person ; for he set up an opposition, and his 
specialty was the cure of whooping-cough. Many 
a Scotch mother took her lad or lass to the spray- 
covered mouth of the wise goblin's cave, and sang 
in a low voice : 

io8 "brownies and bogles." 

Hobhole Hob ! 
Ma bairn's gotten t' kink-cough: 
Tak't off ! tak't off ! 

And so he did, sitting there with his toes in 
the sea. For Hobhole Hob's small sake, we can 
afford to part friends with the whole naughty race 
of water-folk. 



THE fairy-fellows who made a regular busi- 
ness of mischief-making seemed to have 
two favorite ways of setting to work. They either 
saddled themselves with little boys and spilled 
them, sooner or later, into the water, or else they 
danced along holding a twinkling light, and led 
any one so foolish as to follow them a pretty march 
into chasms and quagmires. Their jokes were 
grim and hurtful, and not merely funny, like 
Brownie's ; for Brownie usually gave his victims 
(except in Molly Jones's case) nothing much 
worse than a pinch. So people came to have 
great awe and horror of the heartless goblins who 
waylaid travellers, and left them broken-limbed or 

Very often quarrelsome, disobedient or vicious 


folk fell into the snare of a Kelpie, or a Will-o'-the- 
Wisp ; for the little whipper-snappers had a fine 
eye for poetical justice, and dealt out punishments 
with the nicest discrimination. We never hear 
that they troubled good, steady mortals ; but only 
that sometimes they beguiled them, for sheer love, 
into Fairyland. 

We know that all " ouphes and elves " could 
change their shapes at will ; therefore when we 
spy fairy-horses, fairy-lambs, and such quadrupeds, 
we guess at once that they are only roguish small 
gentlemen masquerading. Never for the innocent 
fun of it, either ; but alas ! to bring silly persons 
to grief. 

In Hampshire, in England, was a spirit known 
as Coltpixy, which, itself shaped like a miniature 
neighing horse, beguiled other horses into bogs 
and morasses. The Irish Pooka or Phooka was 
a horse too, and a famous rascal. He lived on 
land, and was something like the Welsh Gwyll : a 
tiny, black, wicked-faced wild colt, with chains 
dangling about him. Again, he frisked around in 
the shape of a goat or a bat. Spenser has him : 


Ne let the Pouke, ne other evill spright, , . . 
Ne let holjgoblins, names whose sense we see not, 
Fray us with things that be not." 

" Fray," as you are likely to guess, means to 
frighten or to scare. 


Kelpies, who were Scotch, haunted fords and 
ferries, especially in storms ; allured bystanders 
into the water, or swelled the river so that it broke 
the roads, and overwhelmed travellers. 

Very like them were the Brag, the little Shoopil- 


tree of the Shetland Islands, and the Nick, who 
was the Icelandic Nykkur-horse ; gamesome de- 
ceivers all, who enticed children and others to 
bestride them, and who were treacherous as a 
quicksand, every time. And there were many 
more of the Kelpie kingdom, of whom we can 
hunt up no clews. 

A man who saw a Kelpie gave himself up for 
lost ; for he was sure, by hook or crook, to meet 
his death by drowning. Kelpie, familiar so far 
away as China, never stayed in the next-door coun- 
tries, Ireland or England, long enough to be rec- 
ognized. They knew nothing of him by sight, nor 
of the Nix his cousin, nor of anything resembling 
them. In Ireland lived the merrow ; but she was 
only an amiable mermaid. 

The Japanese had a water-dragon called Kappa, 
" whose office it was to swallow bad boys who went 
to swim in disobedience to their parents' com- 
mands, and at improper times and places." In 
the River Tees was a green-haired lady named 
Peg Powler, and in some streams in Lancashire 
one christened Jenny Greenteeth ; two hungry 



goblins whose only delight was to drown and de- 
vour unlucky travellers. But we know already 
that the water-sprites were more than likely so to 

In Provence there is a tale told of seven little 
boys who went out at night against their grand- 
mother's wishes. A little dark pony came prancing 
up to them, and the youngest clambered on his 
sleek back, and after him, the whole seven, one 
after the other, which was quite a wonderful weight 
for the wee creature ; but his back meanwhile kept 
growing longer and larger to accommodate them. 
As they galloped along, the children called such 
of their playmates as were out of doors, to join 
them, the obliging nag stretching and stretching 
until thirty pairs of young legs dangled at his 
sides ! when he made straight for the sea, and 
plunged in, and drowned them all. 

The Piskies, or Pigseys, of Cornwall, were 
naughty and unsociable. Their great trick was 
to entice people into marshes, by making them- 
selves look like a light held in a man's hand, or 
a light in a friendly cottage window. Pisky also 

ii6 "brownies and bogles." 

rode the fanners' colts hard, and chased the farm- 
ers' cows. For all his diabolics, you had to excuse 
him in part, when you heard his hearty fearless 
laugh ; it was so merry and sweet. " To laugh like 
a Pisky," passed into a proverb. The Barguest 
of Yorkshire, like the Osschaert of the Nether- 
lands, was an open-air bugaboo whose presence 
always portended disaster. Sometimes he ap- 
peared as a horse or dog, merely to play the old 
trick with a false light, and to vanish, laughing. 

The Tuckebold was a very malicious chap, car- 
rying a candle, who lived in Hanover ; his blood- 
relation in .Scandinavia was the Lyktgubhe. Over 
in Flanders and Brabant was one Kludde, a fellow 
whisking here and there as a half-starved little 
mare, or a cat, or a frog, or a bat ; but who was 
always accompanied by two dancing blue flames, 
and who could overtake any one as swiftly as a 
snake. The Ellydan (dan is a Welsh word mean- 
ing fire, and also a lure or a snare : a luring elf- 
fire) was a rogue with wings, wide ears, a tall cap 
and two huge torches, who precisely resembled 
the English Will-o'-the-Wisp, the Scandinavian 


Lyktgubhe and the Breton Sand Yan y Tad. Our 
American negroes make him out Jack-muh-Lan- 
tern : a vast, hairy, goggle-eyed, big-mouthed ogre, 
leaping like a giant grasshopper, and forcing his 
victims into a swamp, where they died. The gen- 
tlemen of this tribe preferred to walk abroad at 
night, like any other torchlight procession. Their 
little bodies were invisible, and the traveller who 
hurried towards the pleasant lamp ahead, never 
knew that he was being tricked by a grinning fairy, 
until he stumbled on the brink of a precipice, or 
found himself knee-deep in a bog. Then the 
brazen little guide shouted outright with glee, put 
out his mysterious flame, and somersaulted off, 
leaving the poor tourist to help himself. The only 
way to escape his arts was to turn your coat 
inside out. 

You may guess that the ungodly wights had 
plenty of fun in them, by this anecdote : A great 
many Scotch Jack-o'-Lanterns, as they are often 
called, were once bothering the horse belonging 
to a clergyman, who with his servant, was returning 
home late at ni^ht. The horse reared and whin- 



nied, and the clergyman was alarmed, for a thou- 
sand impish fires were waltzing before the wheels. 
Like a good man, he began to pray aloud, to no 
avail. But the servant just roared : " Wull ye be 
aff noo, in the deil's name ! " and sure enough, in 
a wink, there was not a goblin within gunshot. 


There were some freakish fairies in old England, 
whose names were Puckerel, Hob Rowland, By- 
gorn, Bogleboe, Rawhead or Bloodybones ; the 
last two were certainly scarers of nurseries. 

The Boggart was a little spectre who haunted 
farms and houses, like Brownie or Nis ; but he 
was usually a sorry busybody, tearing the bed-cur- 



tains, rattling the doors, whistling through the 
keyholes, snatching his bread-and-butter from the 
baby, playing pranks upon the servants, and doing 
all manner of mischief. 

The Dunnie, in Northumberland, was fond of 
annoying farm- 
ers. When night 
came, he gave 
them and him- 
self a rest, and 
hung his long 
legs over the 
crags, whistling 
and banging his 
idle heels. Red 
Comb or Bloody 
Cap was a ty- 
rant who lived 


in every Border castle, dungeon and tower. He 
was short and thickset long-toothed and skinny- 
fingered, with big red eyes, grisly flowing hair, 
and iron boots; a pikestaff in his left hand, and 
a red cap on his ugly head. 


The village of Hedley, near Ebchester, in Eng- 
land, was haunted by a churlish imp known far 
and wide as the Hedley Gow. He took the form 
of a cow, and amused himself at milking-time with 
kicking over the pails, scaring the maids, and call- 
ing the cats, of whom he was fond, to lick up the 
cream. Then he slipped the ropes and vanished, 
with a great laugh. In Northern Germany we find 
the Hedley Gow's next-of-kin, and there, too, were 
little underground beings who accompanied maids 
and men to the milking, and drank up what was 
spilt ; but if nothing happened to be spilt in 
measuring out the quarts, they got angry, over- 
turned the pails, and ran away. These jacka- 
napes were a foot and a half high, and dressed in 
black, with red caps. 

Many ominous fairies, such as the Banshee, por- 
tended misfortune and death. The Banshee had 
a high shrill voice, and long hair. Once in a 
while she seemed to be as tall as an ordinary 
woman, very thin, with head uncovered, and a 
floating white cloak, wringing her hands and wail- 
ing. She attached herself only to certain ancient 


Irish families, and cried under their windows when 
one of their race was sick, and doomed to die. 
But she scorned families who had a dash of Saxon 
and Norman ancestry, and would have nothing to 
do with them. 

Every single fairy that ever was known to the 
annals of this world was, at times, a mischief- 
maker. He could no more keep out of mischief 
than a trout out of water. What lives the dandi- 
prats led our poor great-great-great-great grand- 
sires ! As a very clever living writer put it : 

" A man could not ride out without risking an encounter 
with a Puck or a Will-o'-the Wisp. He could not approach 
a stream in safety unless he closed his ears to the sirens' 
songs, and his eyes to the fair form of the mermaid. In the 
hillside were the dwarfs, in the forest Queen Mab and her 
court. Brownie ruled over him in his house, and Robin 
Goodfellow in his walks and wanderings. From the moment 
a Christian came into the world until his departure there- 
from, he was at the mercy of the fairy-folk, and his devices 
to elude them were many. Unhappy was the mother who 
neglected to lay a pair of scissors or of tongs, a knife or her 
husband's breeches, in the cradle of her new-born infant ; 
for if she forgot, then was she sure to receive a changeling 
in its place. Great was the loss of the child to whose bap- 
tism the fairies were not invited, or the bride to whose wed- 


ding the Nix, or water-spirit, was not bidden. If the inhabi- 
tants of Thale did not throw a black cock annually into the 
Bode, one of them was claimed as his lawful victim by the 
Nickelmann dwelling in that stream. The Russian peasant 
who failed to present the Rusalka or water-sprite he met at 
Whitsuntide, with a handkerchief, or a piece torn from his 
or her clothing, was doomed to death." 

One had to be ever on the lookout to escape 
the sharp little immortals, whose very kindness to 
men and women was a species of coquetry, and 
who never spared their friends' feelings at the ex- 
pense of their own saucy delight. 



PUCK, as we said, is Shakespeare's fairy. 
There is some probability that he found in 
Cwm Pwca, or Puck Valley, a part of the roman- 
tic glens of Clydach, in Breconshire, the original 
scenes of his fanciful Midsummer Nighfs Dream. 
This glen used to be crammed with goblins. There, 
and in many like-named Welsh places. Puck's 
pranks were well-remembered by old inhabitants. 
This Welsh Puck was a queer little figure, long and 
grotesque, and looked something like a chicken 
half out of his shell ; at least, so a peasant drew 
him, from memory, with a bit of coal. Pvvcca, or 
Pooka, in Wales, was but another name for Elly- 
dan ; and his favorite joke was also to travel along 
before a wayfarer, with a lantern held over his 
head, leading miles and miles, until he got to 

124 "brownies and bogles. 

the brink of a precipice. Then the little wretch 
sprang over the chasm, shouted with wicked glee, 
blew out his lantern, and left the startled traveller 
to reach home as best he could. Old Reginald 
Scott must have had this sort of a Puck in mind 
when he put Kitt-with-the-Candlestick, whose iden- 
tity troubled the critics much, in his catalogue of 
" bugbears." 

The very old word Pouke meant the devil, 
horns, tail, and all ; from that word, as it grew 
more human and serviceable, came the Pixy of 
Devonshire, the Irish Phooka, the Scottish Bogle, 
and the Boggart in Yorkshire ; and even one nur- 
sery-tale title of Bugaboo. Oddest of all, the 
name Pug, which we give now to an amusing race 
of small dogs, is an e very-day reminder of poor 
lost Puck, and of the queer changes which, through 
a century or two, may befall a word. Puck was con- 
sidered court-jester, a mild, comic, playful creature : 

A little random elf 
Born in the sport of Nature, like a weed, 
For simple sweet enjoyment of myself, 
Hut for no other purpose, worth or need ; 
And yet withal of a most happy breed. 

PUCK; AND poets' FAIRIES. 1 25 

But he kept to the last his character of practical 
joker, and his alliance with his grim little cousins, 
the I.yktgubhe and the Kludde, Glorious old 
Michael Drayton made a verse of his naughty 
tricks, which you shall hear : 

This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt, 
Still walking like a ragged colt, 
And oft out of a bush doth bolt 
On purpose to deceive us; 
And leading us, makes us to stray 
Long winter nights out of the way; 
And when we stick in mire and clay, 
He doth with laughter leave us. 

Shakespeare, who calls him a "merry wanderer 
of the night," and allows him to fly " swifter than 
arrow from the Tartar's bow," was the first to 
make Puck into a house spirit. The poets were 
especially attentive to the offices of these house- 

According to them, Mab and Puck do every- 
thing in-doors which we think characteristic of a 
Brownie. William Browne, born in Tavistock, in 
the county of Devon, where the Pixies lived, pret- 
tily puts it how the fairj'-queen did — 


"brownies and bogles." 

command her elves 

To pinch those maids that had not swept their shelves; 
And further, if by maiden's oversight, 
Within doors water was not brought at night, 


Or if they spread no table, set no bread. 
They should have nips from toe unto the head ! 
And for the maid who had performed each thing 
She in the water-pail bade leave a ring. 

Herrick confirms what we have just heard 



If ye will with Mab find grace, 
Set each platter in its place ; 
Rake the fire up, and get 
Water in ere the sun be set ; 
Wash your pails, and cleanse your dairies; 
Sluts are loathsome to the fairies! 
Sweep your house : who doth not so, 
Mab will pinch her by the toe. 

John Lyly, in his very beautiful May lie's Meta- 
morphosis has this charming fairy song, which 
takes us out to tlie grass, and the soft night air, 
and the softer starshine : 

Hy the moon we 

sport and play ; 
With the night be- 
gins our day ; 
As we dance, the 

dew doth fall. 
Trip it, little urchins 

Lightly as the little 

Two by two, and 

three by three, 
And about go we, 

and about go we. 


What a picture of the wee tribe at their revels! 
Here is another, from Ben Jonson's Sad Slieplieni : 

128 "brownies and bogles." 

Span-long elves that dance about a pool, 
With each a little changeling in her arms. 

In what is thought to be Lyly's play, just men- 
tioned, Mopso, Joculo, and Prisio have something 
in the way of a pun for each fairy they address : 

Mop. : I pray you, what might I call you } 
\st Fairy : My name is Penny. 
Mop. : I am sorry I cannot purse you ! 
Pris. : I pray you, sir, what might I call you.' 
zd Fairy : My name is Cricket. 

(Mr. Keightley says that the Crickets were a 
family of great note in Fairyland : many poets 
celebrated them.) 

Pris. : I would I were a chimney for your sake ! 

Joe. : I pray you, you pretty little fellow, what's youi 
name ? 

yi Fairy : My name is Little Little Prick. 

/oc: Little Little Prick! O you are a dangerous fairy, 
and fright all the little wenches in the country out of their 
beds. I care not whose hand I were in, so I were out of 

Drayton, again, gives us a list of tinkling elfin- 
ladies' names, which are pleasant to hear as the 
drip of an icicle : 

PUCK; AND poets' fairies. 

Hop and Mop and Drop so clear, 
Pip and Trip and Skip that were 
To Mab their sovereign ever dear, 
Her special maidsof-honor : 

Pib and Tib and Pinck and Pin, 
Tick and Quick, and Jil and Jin, 
Tit and Nit, and Wap and Win, 
The train that wait upon her ! 



Young Randolph has an equally delightful ac- 
count in the pastoral drama of Amymtas, of his wee 
folk orchard- robbing ; whose chorused Latin Leigh 
Hunt thus translates, roguishly enough : 


We the fairies blithe and antic, 
Of dimensions not gigantic, 
Tho' the moonshine mostly keep us. 
Oft in orchard frisk and peep us. 

Stolen sweets are always sweeter; 
Stolen kisses much completer ; 
Stolen looks are nice in chapels ; 
Stolen, stolen, be our apples I 

When to bed the world is bobbing, 
Then's the time for orchard-robbing : 
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling. 
Were it not for stealing, stealing ! 

You will notice that Shakespeare places his 
Gothic goblins in the woods about Athens, a place 
where real fairies never set their rose- leaf feet, 
but where once sported yet lovelier Dryads and 
Naiads. These dainty British Greeks are very 
small indeed : Titania orders them to make war 
on the rear-mice, and make coats of their leathern 
wings. Mercutio's Queen Mab is scarce bigger 
than a snowflake. Prospero, in The Tempest, com- 
mands, besides his " delicate Ariel," all 

— elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves. 


The make-believe fairies in The Merry Wives 
know how to pinch offenders black and blue. The 
shepherd, in the Winter's Tale, takes the baby 
Perdita for a changeling. So that all the Shakes- 
peare people seem wise in goblin-lore. 

You see that we have looked for the literature 

of our pretty friends only among the old poets, and 

only English poets at that; but the foreign fairies 

are no less charming. Chaucer and Spenser loved 

the brood especially. Robert Herrick knew all 


— the elves also, 
Whose little eyes glow ; 

Sidney smiled on them once or twice, and great 
Milton could spare them a line out of his majestic 
verse. But the high-tide of their praise was ebb- 
ing already when Dryden and Pope were writing. 
Lesser poets than any of these, Parnell and Tickell, 
wrote fairy tales, but they lack the relish of the 
honeyed rhymes Drayton, Lyly, and supreme 
Shakespeare, give us. Keats was drawn to them, 
though he has left us but sweet and brief proof of 
it ; and Thomas Hood, of all gentle modern poets. 



has done most for the " small foresters and gay." 
In prose the fairies are " famoused " east and west ; 
for which they may sing their loudest canticle to 
the good Brothers Grimm, in Fairyland. The 
arts have been their handmaids ; and some of this 


world's most lovable spirits have delighted to do 
them merry honor: Mendelssohn in his quicksil- 
ver orchestral music, and dear Richard Doyle in 
the quaintest drawings that ever fell, laughing, 
from a pencil-point. 



KIDNAPPING was a favorite pastime with 
our small friends, and a great many rea- 
sons concurred to make it a necessary and thriv- 
ing trade. We are told that both the Tylwyth 
Teg and the Kerrigans had a fear that their frail 
race was dying out, and sought to steal hearty 
young children, and leave the wee, bright, sickly 
"changeling," or ex-changeling, in its place. 
That sounds like a quibble ; for we know that fai- 
ries were free from the shadow of death, and 
could not possibly dread any lessening of their 
numbers from the old, old cause. Yet we 
saw that the air-elves held pitched battles, and 
murdered one another like gallant soldiers, from 
the world's beginning ; and again comes a strag- 
gling little proof to make us suspect that they had 

134 "brownies and bogles. 

not quite the immortality they boasted. However, 
we pass it by, sure at least that the philosopher 
who first observed the merry goblins to be at bot- 
tom wavering and disconsolate, recognized an in- 
stance of it in this pathetic eagerness to adopt 
babies not their own. Fairy-folk were believed, 
in general, to have power over none but unbap- 
tized children. 

A tradition older and wider than the Tylwj'th 
Teg's runs .that a yearly tribute was due from 
Fairyland to the prince of the infernal regions, as 
poor King ^Egeus had once to pay Minos of Crete 
with the seven fair boys and girls ; and that, for 
the sake of sparing their own dear ones, the little 
beings, in their fantastic dress, flew east and west 
on an anxious hunt for human children, who might 
be captured and delivered over to bondage 
instead. And they crept cautiously to many a 
cradle, and having secured the sleeping innocent, 
"plucked the nodding nurse by the nose," as 
Ben Jonson said, and vanished with a scream of 
triumphant laughter. Welsh fairies have been 
caught in the very act of the theft, and a pretty 


fight they made, every time, to keep their booty ; 
but the strength of a man or a woman, was, of 
course, too much for them to resist long. 

Now, whenever a mother, who, you may count 
upon it, thought her own urchin most beautiful of 
all under the moon, found him growing cross and 
homely, in despite of herself, she suddenly awoke 
to this view of the case : that the dwindled babe 
was her babe no longer, but a miserable young 
gosling from Fairyland slipped into its place. A 
miserable young foreign gosling it was from that 
hour, though it had her own grandfather's special 
kiixl of a nose on its unmistakable face. 

The discovery always made a great sensation ; 
people came from the surrounding villages to 
wonder at the lean, gaping, knowing-eyed small 
stranger in the crib, and to propose all sorts of 
charms which should rid the house of his presence, 
and restore the rightful heir again. They were 
not especially polite to the poor changeling. In 
Denmark, and in Ireland as well, they dandled 
him on a hot shovel ! If he were really a change- 
ling, the fairies, rather than see him singed, were 

136 "brownies and bogles." 

sure to appear in a violent fluster and whisk him 
away, and at the same minute to drop its former 
owner plump into the cradle. And if it were 
not a changeling, how did those queer by-gone 
mammas know when to stop the broiling and 

Mr. George Waldron, who in 1726 wrote an en- 
tertaining Description of the Isle of Man, recorded 
it that he once went to see a baby supposed to be 
a changeling ;■ that it seemed to be four or five 
years old, but smaller than an infant of six months, 
pale, and silky-haired, and (what was unusual) 
with the fairest face under heaven ; that it was 
not able to walk nor to move a joint, seldom smiled, 
ate scarcely anything, and never spoke nor cried ; 
but that if you called it a fairy-elf, it fixed its gaze 
on you as if it would look you through. If it were 
left alone, it was overheard laughing and frolick- 
ing, and when it was taken up after, limp as cloth, 
its hair was found prettily combed, and there were 
signs that it had been washed and dressed by its 
unseen playfellows. 

The main point to put the family mind at rest 



on the matter, was to make the changeling " own 
up," force him to do something which no tender 
mortal in socks and bibs ever was able to do, such 
as dance, prophesy, or manage a musical instru- 
ment. There was an Irish changeling, the young- 
est of five sons, 
who, being teased, 
snatched a bagpipe 
from a visitor, and 
played upon it in the 
most accomplished 
and melting manner, 
sitting up in his 
wooden chair, his 
big goggle-eyes fixed 
on the company. 
And when he knew 


he was found out, he sprang, bagpipe and all, into 
the river ; which leads one to suspect that he was 
a sort of stray Stromkarl. 

The Welsh fairies had good taste, and admired 
wholesome and handsome children. They stole 
such often, and left for substitute the plentyn- 

138 "brownies and bogles." 

newid (the change-child) who at first was exactly 
like the absent nursling, but soon grew ugly, shriv- 
elled, biting, wailing, cunning and ill-tempered. 
In the hope of proving whether it were a fairy- 
waif or not, people put the little creature to such 
hard tests, that sometimes it nearly died of acquaint- 
ance with a rod, or an oven, or a well. 

If the bereaved parent did some very astonish- 
ing thing in plain view of the wonder-chick, that 
would generally entrap it into betraying its secrets. 
A French changeling was once moved unawares 
to sing out that it was nine hundred years old, at 
least! In Wales, and also in Brittainy (which are 
sister-countries of one race) the following story is 
current : A mother whose infant had been spirited 
away, and who was much perplexed over what she 
took to be a changeling, was advised to cook a 
meal for ten farm-servants in one egg-shell. When 
the queer little creature, burning with curiosity, 
asked her from his high-chair what she was about, 
she could hardly answer, so excited was she to 
hear him speak. At that he cried louder : " A 
meal for ten, dear mother, in one egg-shell ? The 



acorn before the oak have I seen, and the wilder- 
ness before the lawn, but never did I behold any- 
thing like that ! " and so gave damaging evidence 
of his age and his unlucky wisdom. And the 
woman replied : " You have seen altogether too 
much, my son, and you shall have a beating ! " 
And thereupon she began to thrash him, until he 
screeched, and a fairy appeared hurriedly to rescue 
him, and in the crib lay the round, rosy, real child, 
who had been missing a long while. 

Now the " gentry " of modern Greece had an 
eye also to clever children ; but they almost 
always brought them back, laden with gifts, lovelier 
in person than when they were taken from home. 
And if they appointed a changeling in the mean- 
time (which they were not very apt to do) it never 
showed its elfin nature until it was quite grown up ! 
unlike the uncanny goblins who were all too 
ready from the first to give autobiographies on the 
slightest hint. 

The Drows of the Orkney Islands fancied larger 
game. They used to stalk in among church con- 
gregations and carry off pious deacons and deacon- 

142 "brownies and bogles." 

esses ! So wrote one Lucas Jacobson Debes, in 

In a pretty Scotch tale, a sly fairy threatened to 
steal the " lad bairn," unless the mother could tell 
the fairy's right name. The latter was a complete 
stranger, and the woman was sore worried ; and 
went to walk in the woods to ease her anxious and 
aching heart, and to think over some means of 
outwitting the enemy of her boy. And presently 
she heard a faint voice singing under a leaf : 

Little kens the glide dame at hame 
That Whuppity Stoorie is ma name ! 

When the smart lady in green came to take the 
beautiful " lad bairn," the mother quietly called 
her " Whuppity Stoorie ! " and off she hurried with 
a cry of fear ; like the Austrian dwarf Kruzi- 
miigeli, the " dear Ekke Nekkepem " of Friesland, 
and many another who tried to play the same 
trick, and who were always themselves the means 
of telling mortals the very names they would con- 

Fairy-folk young and old were coquettish enough 



about their names, and greatly preferred they 
should not be spoken outright. This habit got 
them into many a scrape. The anecdote of " Who 
hurt you ? Myself ! " was told in Spain, Finland, 


Brittainy, Japan, and a dozen other kingdoms, and 
seems to be as old as the Odyssey. Do you re- 
member where Ulysses tells the Cyclop that his 
name is Outis, which means Nobody ? and how, 
after the eye of the wicked Polyphemus has been 



put out, the comrades of the big blinded fellow ask 
him who did the deed, and he growls back, very 
sensibly : " Nobody ! " Consider what follows a 
typical modern version of the same trick. 

A young Scotch child, whom we will call Alan, 

sits by the fire, when a pretty creature the size oE 
a doll, waltzes down the chimney to the hearth, 
and begins to frolic. When asked its name it says 
shrewdly : " Ainsel " ; which to the boy sounds 
like what it really is, " Ownself," and makes him. 


when it is his turn to be questioned, as saucy and 
reticent as he supposes his elfin playfellow to be. 
So Alan tells the sprite that his name is " J/y 
Ainsel," and gets the better of it. For bye-and- 
bye they wax very frisky and friendly, and right 
in the middle of their sport, when little Alan 
pokes the fire, and gets a spark by chance on 
Ainsel's foot, and when he roars with pain, and 
the old fairy-mother appears instantly, crying an- 
grily : " Who has hurt thee ? Who has hurt thee ? " 
the elf blurts, of course, " My Ainsel ! " and she 
kicks him unceremoniously up chimney, and bids 
him stop whimpering, since the burn was of his 
own silly doing! Alan, meanwhile, climbs up- 
stairs to bed, rejoicing to escape the vengeance of 
the fairy-mother, and chuckling in his sleeve at 
the funny turn things have taken. 



" And never would I tire, Janet, 
In Fairyland to dwell." 

SO runs the song. Who would weary of so 
sweet a place ? At least, we think of it as 
a sweet place ; but like this own world of ours, it 
was whatever a man's eyes made it ; good and 
gracious to the good, troublous to the evil. Ac- 
cording to an old belief, a mean or angry, or un- 
truthful person, always exposed himself, by the 
very violence of his wrong-doing, to become an 
inmate of Fairyland ; and for such a one, it could 
not have been all sunshine. A foot set upon the 
fairy-ring was enough to cause a mortal to be 
whisked off, pounded, pinched, bewildered, and 
left far from home. It was a strange experience, 
and it is recorded that it befell many a lad and 


maid to be loosed from earth, and cloistered for 
uncounted years, to return, like our Catskill hero, 
Rip Van Winkle, after what he supposes to be a 
little time, and to find that generations had f>assed 
away. For those absent took no thought of time's 
passing, and on reaching earth again, would begin 
where their lips had dropped a sentence half- 
spoken, a hundred years before. Tales of such 
truants are common the world over. 

Gitto Bach (little Griffith) was a Welsh farmer's 
boy, who looked after sheep on the mountain-top. 
When he came home at evenfall he often showed 
his brothers and sisters bits of paper stamped like 
money. Now when it was given to him, it was 
real money; but the fairy-gifts would not bear 
handling, and turned useless and limp as soon as 
Gitto showed them. One day he did not return. 
After two years his mother found him one morning 
at the door, smiling, and with a bundle under his 
arm. She asked him, with many tears, where he 
had been so long, while they had mourned for him 
as dead. "It is only yesterday I went away!" 
said Gitto. " See the pretty clothes the mountain- 



children gave me, for dancing with them to the 
music of their harps." And he opened his bundle, 
and showed a beautiful dress : but his mother saw 
it was only paper, after all, like the fairy money. 


Our pretty friends enjoyed beguiling mortals into 
their shining underworld, with song, and caresses, 
and winning promises. Once the mortal entered, 
he met with warm welcomes from all, and the most 
exquisite meat and drink were set before him. 



Now, if he had but the courage to refuse it, he 
soon found himself back on earth, whence he was 
stolen. But if he yielded to temptation, and his 
tongue tasted fairy food, he could never behold 
his native hills again for years and years. And 
when, after that exquisite imprisonment, he should 
be torn from his delights and set back at his father's 


door, he should find his memory almost forgotten, 
and others sitting with a claim in his empty seat. 
And he should not remember how long he had 
been missing, but grow silent and depressed, and 
sit for hours, with dreamy eyes, on lonely slopes 
and wildwood bridges, not desiring' fellowship of 
any soul alive ; but with a heartache always for his 

150 "brownies and bogles. 

little lost playfellows, and for that bright country 
far away, until he died. 

Often the creature who has once stood in the 
courts of Fairyland, is placed under vow, when 
released, and allowed to visit the earth, to come 
back at call, and abide there always. For the 
spell of that place is so strong, no heart can es- 
cape it, nor wish to escape it. Thus ends the old 
romance of Thomas the Rhymer: that, at the end 
of seven years, he was freed from Fairyland, made 
wise beyond all men ; but he was sworn to return 
whenever the summons should reach him. And 
once as he was making merry with his chosen com- 
rades, a hart and a hind moved slowly along the 
village street ; and he knew the sign, laid down 
his glass, and smiled farewell ; and followed them 
straightway into the strange wood, never to be 
seen more by mortal eyes. 

A wonderful and beautiful Japanese story, too, 
the ancient Taketori Monogatari, written in the 
first half of the tenth century, tells us how a grey- 
haired bamboo-gatherer found in a bamboo-blade 
a radiant elf-baby, and kindly took it home to his 


wife ; and because of their great and ready gener- 
osity to the waif, the gods made them thrive in 
purse and health ; and how, when the little one 
had been with them three months, Kaguyahime, 
for that was she, grew suddenly to a tall and fair 
girl, and so remained unchanging, for twenty 
years, while five gallant Japanese lords were doing 
her strange commands, and running risks the world 
over. Then, though the emperor, also, was her 
suitor, and though she was unspeakably fond of 
her old foster-parents, and grieved to go from 
them, she, being a moon-maid, went back in her 
chariot one glorious night to her shining home, 
whence she had been banished for some old fault, 
and whither the love and longing and homage of 
all the land pursued her. 

Many sweet wild Welsh and Cornish legends 
deal with shepherds and yeomen who set foot on 
a fairy mound by chance, or who, in some other 
fashion, were transplanted to the realm of the 
dancing, feasting elves. But they have a pathetic 
ending, since no wanderer ever strayed back with 
all his old wits sound and sharp. He seemed as 


"brownies and bogles," 

one who walked in sleep, and had no care or rec- 
ognition for the faces that once he held dear. 
And if he were roused too rudely from his long 
reverie, he died of the shock. 

A merrier tale, and one which is very wise and 
pretty as well, is current in many literatures. The 


Irish version runs somewhat in this fashion, and 
the Spanish and Breton versions are extraordina- 
rily like it. A little hunchback resting at night- 
fall in an enchanted neighborhood, heard the 
fairies, from their borderlands near by, singing 
over and over the names of the days of the week. 
"And Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday!" they 
chorus : " and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday." 


The boy thinks it rather hard that they do not 
know enough to finish their musical chant with the 
names of the remaining days ; so, when they pause 
a little, very softly, and tunefully, he adds: "And 
Wednesday " ! The wee folk are delighted, and 
make their chant longer by one strophe ; and they 
crowd out in their finery from the mound, bearing 
the stranger far down into its depths where there 
are the glorious open halls of Fairyland : kissing 
and praising their friend, and bringing him 'the 
daintiest fruit lips ever tasted ; and to reward him 
lastingly, their soft little hands lift the cruel hump 
from his back, and he runs dancing home, at a 
year's end, to acquaint the village with his happy 
fortune. Now another deformed lad, his neigh- 
bor, is racked with jealousy at the sight of his 
former friend made straight and fair ; and he 
rushes to the fairy-mound, and sits, scowling, wait- 
ing to hear them begin the magic song. Presently 
rise the silver voices : " And Sunday, and Monday, 
and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Sunday and 
Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday " : whereat 
the audience breaks in rudely, right in the middle 

154 "brownies and bogles. 

of a cadence : "■ And Friday." Then the gentle 
elves were wrathful, and swarmed out upon him, 
snarling and striking at him in scorn ; and before 
he escaped them, they had fastened on his crooked 
back beside his own, the very hump that had be- 
longed to the first comer ! In the anecdote, as it 
is given in Picardy, the justice-dealing goblins 
are described as very small and comely, clad in 
violet-colored velvet, and wearing hats laden with 
peacock plumes. In the Japanese rendering, a 
wen takes the place of the hump. 

Fairyland is the home of every goblin, bright 
or fierce, that ever we heard of; the home, too, of 
the ogres and dragons, and enchanted princesses, 
and demons, and Jack-the-giant-killers of all time. 
The Brownies belonged there, and went thither in 
their worldly finery, when service was over ; the 
gnomes and snarling mine-sprites, the sweet danc- 
ing elves, the fairies who stole children, or romped 
under the river's current, or plagued honest farm- 
ers, or tiptoed it with a torch down a lonesome 
road — every one there had his country and his 


In that merry company were many who have 
escaped us, and who sit in a blossomy corner by 
themselves, the oddest of the odd : like the Jap- 
anese Tengus, who have little wings and feathers, 
like birds, until they grew up ; mouths very sel- 
dom opened, and most amazing big noses, with 
which, on earth, they were wont to fence, to white- 
wash, to write poetry, and to ring bells ! There, 
too, were the dark-skinned Indian wonder-babies: 
Weeng, whom Mr. Longfellow celebrates as Ne- 
pahwin, the Indian god of sleep, with his numer- 
ous train of little fairy men armed with clubs ; 
who at nightfall sought out mortals, and with in- 
numerable light blows upon their foreheads, com- 
pelled them to slumber. The great boaster, lagoo, 
whom Hiawatha knew, once declared that he had 
seen King Weeng himself, resting against a tree, 
with many waving and music-making wings on his 
back. Indian, likewise, was the spirit named Ca- 
notidan, who dwelt in many a hollow tree ; and 
the lively fellow, Taknakanx Kan, who sported "in 
the nodding flowers ; who flew with the birds, frisked 
with the squirrels, and skipped jvith the grasshop- 



per ; who was merry with the gay running brooks, 
and shouted with the waterfall; who moved with 
the sailing cloud, and came forth with the dawn." 
He never slept, and never had time to sleep, being 


the god of perpetual motion. Near him, perhaps, 
see-sawed a couple of long-eyed Chinese San Sao, 
or the glossy-haired Fees of Southern France 
pelted one another with dew-drops. There also, 
the African Yumboes had their magnificent tents 
spread : those strange little thieving Banshee- 


Brownies, wrapped in white cotton pangs, who 
leaned back in their seats after a gorgeous repast, 
and beheld an army of hands appear and carry off 
the golden dishes ! There abided, as the vene- 
rated elder of the rest, the long-bearded Pygmies 
whom Homer, Aristotle and good Herodotus had 
not scorned to celebrate, whom Sir John Mande- 
ville avowed to be " right fair and gentle, after their 
quantities, both the men artd the women. . . . 
And he that liveth eight year, men hold him right 
passing old . . . and of the men of our stature 
have they as great scorn and wonder as we would 
have among us of giants ! " 

Of these and thousands more marvellous is 
Fairyland full ; full of things startling and splen- 
did and grewsome and visionary : 

full of noises, 

Sounds and sweet airs that give delight, and hurt not. 

Any picture of it is tame, any worded description 
dull and heavy, to you who discover it daily at first 
hand, and who know its faces and voices, which 
fade too quickly from the brain. All fine advent- 

15S "brownies and bogles." 

ures spring thence : all loveliest color, odor and 
companionship are in that stirring, sparkling world. 
Can you not help us back there for an hour? Who 
knows the path ? Who can draw a map, and set up 
a sign-post ? Who can bar the gate, when we are 
safe inside, and keep us forever and ever in our for- 
saken " dear sweet land of Once-upon-a-Time " ? 



THERE was once a very childish child who laid 
her fairy-book on its face across her knee, 
and sat all the morning watching the cups of the 
honeysuckle, grieved that not one solitary elf was 
left to swing on its sun-touched edges, and laugh 
back at her, with unforgetful eyes. 

We are sorry for her, and sorry with her. The 
Little People, "alas ! have gone away; would that 
they might return ! No man knows why nor when 
they left us ; nor whither they turned their faces. 
The exodus was made softly and slowly, till the 
whole bright tribe had stolen imperceptibly into 
exile. Mills, steam-engines and prowling disbe- 
lievers joined to banish them; their poetic and 
dreamy drama is over, their magic lamp out, and 
their jocund music hushed and forbidden. Or 



perhaps they of themselves went lingeringly and 
sorrowfully afar, because the world had grown too 
rough for them. 

Geoffrey Chaucer, in the fourteenth century, 
wrote in his sweet, tranquil fashion : 

In olde dayes of the Kyng Arthour . . . 

Al was this lond fulfilled of faerie 

I speke of mony hundrid yeer ago ; 
But now can no man see non elves mo : 

which you may understand as an announcement 
somewhat ahead of time. For many, many "elves 
mo " were on record after the good poet's lyre was 
hushed, and " thick as motes in the sunbeam " cen- 
turies after their reported flight. There have been 
sound-headed folk in every age, of whom Chaucer 
was one, who jested over the poor fairies and their 
arts, and spoke of them only for gentle satire's sake. 
But though Chaucer was sure the goblins had per- 
ished, his neighbors saw manifold lively specimens 
of the race, without stirring out of the parish. Up 
to two hundred years ago prajers were said in the 
churches against bad fairies ! 

Sir Walter Scott related that the last Brownie 


was the Brownie of Bodsbeck, who lived there long, 
and vanished, as is the wont of his clan, when 
the mistress of the house laid milk and a piece of 
money in his haunts. He was loath to go, and 
moaned all night : " Farewell to Bonnie Bods- 

"al was this lond fulfilled of faerie." 

beck ! " till his departure at break of daj'. A girl 
from Norfolk, England, questioned by Mr. Thomas 
Keightley, admitted that she had often seen the 
Prairies, dressed in white, coming up from their 
little cities underground ! Mr. John Brand saw a 
man who said he had seen one that had seen fair- 

i62 "brownies and bogles." 

ies ! And Mr. Robert Hunt, author of the Drolls 
and Traditions of Old Cor/nvall, wrote that forty 
years ago every rock and field in that country was 
peopled with them ! and that " a gentleman well- 
known in the literary world of London very re- 
cently saw in Devonshire a troop of fairies ! It 
was a breezy summer afternoon, and these beau- 
tiful little creatures were floating on circling 
zephyrs up the side of a sunlit hill, fantastically 

'Where oxlips and the nodding violet grow.' 

So here are three trustworthy gentlemen, makers 
of books on this special subject, and none of them 
very long dead, to offset Master Geoffrey Chaucer, 
and to bring the " loud fulfilled of faerie " closer 
than he dreamed. About the year 1865, a corre- 
spondent told Mr. Hunt the following queer little 
story : 

" I heard last week of three fairies having been 
seen in Zennor very recently. A man who lived 
at the foot of Trendreen Hill in the valley of Tre- 
ridge, I think, was cutting furze on the hill. Near 



the middle of the day he saw one of the small peo- 
ple, not more than a foot long, stretched at full 
length and fast asleep, on a bank of heath, sur- 
rounded by high brakes of furze. The man took 
off his furze-cuff and slipped the little man into it 


without his waking up, went down to the house, and 
took the little fellow out of the cuff on the hearth- 
stone, when he awoke, and seemed quite pleased 
and at home, beginning to play with the c^iil- 
dren, who were well pleased also with the small 
body, and called him Bobby Griglans. The old 
people were very careful not to let Bob out of the 

164 "brownies and 150GLES.'' 

house, nor be seen by the neighbors, as he had 
promised to show the man where crocks of gold 
were buried on the hill. A few days after he was 
brought, all the neighbors camfe with their horses, 
according to custom, to bring home the winter's 
reek of furze, which had to be brought down the 
hill in trusses on the backs of the horses. That Bob 
might be safe and out of sight, he and the children 
were shut up io the barn. Whilst the furze-carriers 
were in to dinner, the prisoners contrived to get 
out to have a run round the furze-reek, when they 
saw a little man and woman not much larger than 
Bob, searching into every hole and corner among 
the trusses that were dropped round the unfin- 
ished reek. The little woman was wringing her 
hands and crying ' O my dear and tender Skilly- 
widden! wherever canst thou be gone to? Shall 
I ever cast eyes on thee again ? ' * Go 'e back ! ' 
says Bob to the children ; * my father and mother 
are come here too.' He then cried out : ' Here I 
am, mammy ! ' By the time the words were out of 
his mouth, the little man and woman, with their 
precious Skillywidden, were nowhere to be seen, 




and there has been no sight nor sign of them 
since. The children got a sound thrashing for 
letting Skillywid- 
den escape." 

Such is the lat- 
est evidence we 
can find of the 
whereabouts of 
our goblins. 

We may, how- 
ever, consider 
ourselves their 
contemporaries, since among the peasantry of many 
countries over-seas, the belief is not yet extinct. 
But it is pretty clear to us, modern and American 
as we are (safer in so thinking than anybody was 
anywhere before ! ) that the "restless people," as 
the Scotch called them, are at rest, and clean quit 
of this world; and perhaps satisfied, at last, of their 
chance of salvation, alopg with fortunate Chris- 

Such a great system as this of fairy-lore, propped 
on such show of earnestness, grew up, not of a 

i66 "brownies and bogles." 

sudden like a mushroom after a July rain, but 
gradually and securely, like a coral-reef. And the 
dream-building was not nonsense at all, but a way 
of putting what was evident and marvellous into a 
familiar guise. If certain strange things, which 
are called phenomena, happened — things like the 
coming of pebbles from clouds, music from sand, 
sparkling light from decay, or disease and death 
from the mere handling of a velvety leaf — then our 
forefathers, instead of gazing straight into the eyes 
of the fact, as we are taught to do, looked askance, 
and made a fantastic rigmarole concerning the 
pebbles, or the music, and passed it down as re- 
ligion and law. 

The simple-minded citizens of old referred any 
trifling occurrence, pleasant or unpleasant, to the 
fairies. The demons and deities, according to 
their notion of fitness, governed in vaster matters ; 
and the new, potent sprites took shape in the 
popular brain as the controllers of petty affairs. 
If a shepherd found one of his flock sick, it had 
been elf-shot; if a girl's wits went wool-gathering, 
it was a sign she had been in fairyland ; if a coo- 


ing baby turned peevish and thin, it was a change- 
ling ! Wherever you now see a mist, a cobweb, a 
moving shadow on the grass ; wherever you hear 
a cricket-chirp, or the plash of a waterfall, or the 
cry of the bird on the wing, there of yore were the 
fairy-folk in their beauty. They stood in the mind 
to represent the lesser secrets of Nature, to ac- 
count for some wonder heard and seen. It was 
many a century before nations stopped romancing 
about the brave things on land and sea, and began 
to speculate, to observe more keenly, to hunt out 
reasons, and to lift the haze of their own fancy 
from heroic facts and deeds. 

Think a moment of the Danish moon-man, who 
breathed pestilence, and the moon-woman, whose 
harp was so charming. Well, the moon-man meant 
nothing else than the marsh, slimy and danger- 
ous, which yielded a malarial odor ; and the wee 
woman with her harp represented the musical 
night-wind, which played over the marsh rushes 
and reeds. Was it not so, too, with the larger 
myths of Greece ? For the story of Proserpine, 
carried away by the god of the under world, and after 

1 68 "brownies and bogles." 

a weary while, given back for half-a-year to her fond 
mother Ceres, tells really of the seed-corn which 
is cast into her dark soil, and long hidden ; but re- 
appears in glory, and stays overground for months, 
basking in the sun. And so on with many a fable, 
which we read, unguessing of the thought and 
purpose beneath. Though it was erring, we can 
hardly thank too much that joyous and reverent 
old paganism which fancied it saw divinity in each 
move of Nature, kept a natural piety towards every- 
thing that lived, and made a thousand sweet mem- 
oranda, to remind us forever of the wonder and 
charm of our earth. All mythology, and the 
part the fairies play in it, stands for what is true. 

" Still 

Doth the old instinct bring back the old names " : 

and again and again, when we cite some beautiful 
fiction of Merman and Kobold, of White Dwarf or 
Pooka, we but repeat, whether aware of it or not, 
how the dews come down at morning, or the 
storm-wind breaks the strong trees, or how a comet, 
trailing light, bursts headlong across the wide sky. 
To comprehend fairy-stories, to get under the 


surface of them, we would have to go over them 
all at great length, and with exhaustless patience. 
And as in digging for the tendrils of a delicate, 
berry-laden vine, we have to search, sometimes, 
deep and wide into the woodland loam, among 
gnarly roots of shrubs and giant pines, so in trac- 
ing the scources of the simplest tale which makes 
us glad or sad, we fall across a network of ponder- 
ous ancient lore; of custom, prejudice, and lost 
day-dreams, from which this vine, also, is hard to 
be severed. 

The spirit of these neat little goblin-chronicles 
was right and sincere ; but the matter of them 
was often sadly astray. Of course, sometimes, 
useless, misleading details gathered tD obscure 
the first idea, and to overrun it with a tangle 
of error; and not only were fine stories spoiled, 
but many were started which were funny, or silly, 
or grim merely, without serving any use beyond 

But so powerful is Truth, when there was actu- 
ally a grain of it at the centre, that even those 
versions which were exaggerated and distorted, 

170 "brownies and bogles. 

played into the hands of what we call Folk-lore, 
and laid their golden key at the feet of Science. 
You will discover that, besides pointing out the 
workings of the natural world, the fairy-tales rested 
often on the workings of our own minds and con- 
sciences. The Brownie was a little schoolmaster 
set up to teach love of order, and the need of 
perfect courtesy ; the Nix betokened anything 
sweet and beguiling, which yet was hurtful, and 
to which it was, and is, a gallant heart's duty not 
to yield. And thus, from beginning to end, the 
elves at whom we laugh, help us toward larger 
knowledge, and a more chivalrous code of behav- 
ior. How shall we say, then, that there never was 
a fairy ? 

A miner, hearing the drip of subterranean water, 
took it to be a Duergar or a Bucca, swinging his 
tiny hammer over the shining ore. His notion of 
the Bucca, askew as it was, was one at bottom 
with our knowledge of the, dark brookletj You, 
the young heirs of mighty Science, can often out- 
strip the slow-gathered wisdom of dead philoso- 
phers. But do not despise that fine old imagina- 



tion, which felt its way almost to the light. A 
sixteenth-century boy, who was all excitement 
once over the pranks of Robin Goodfellow, knew 
many precious things which our very great nine- 
teenth-century acuteness has made us lose ! 

Good-bye, then, to the army of vanishing "gen- 
try," and to their steadfast friends, and to you, chil- 
dren dear ! who are the guardians of their wild 
unwritten records. Shall you not miss them when 
next the moon is high on the blossomy hillocks, 
and the thistledown, ready-saddled, plunges to be 
off and away ? Merry fellows they were, and 
shrewd and just ; and we were very fond of them ; 
and now they are gone. And their going, like a 
mounting harmony, note by note, which ends in 
one noble chord, with a hush after it, leads us to 
a serious parting word. Keep the fairies in kindly 
memory ; do not lose your interest in them. They 
and their history have an enchanting value, which 
need never be outgrown nor set aside ; and to the 
gravest mind they bring much which is beautiful, 
humane and suggestive. 

We have found that believers in the Little Peo- 

174 "brownies and bogles. 

pie were not so wrong, after all; and that the eye 
claiming to have seen a fairy saw, verily, a sight 
quite as astonishing. Let us think as gently of 
other myths to which men have given zeal, awe and 
admiration, of every faith hereafter which seems 
to us odd and mistaken. For many things which 
are not true in the exact sense, are yet dear to 
Truth ; and follow her as a baby's tripping tongue 
lisps the language of its mother, not very suc- 
cessfully, but still with loyalty, and with a mean- 
ing which attentive ears can always catch. 

Surely, our ancestors loved the " span-long elves " 
who wrought them no great harm, and who gave 
them help and cheer. We will praise them, too. 
Who knows but some little goblin's thorny finger 
directed many an innocent human heart to march, 
albeit waveringly, towards the ample light of God ?